This Eastern Idaho Cave is a Perfect Trip for Beginning Spelunkers
Once upon a time, Idaho was very different from the high dessert it as today. Thousands of years ago, the Gem State experiences volcanic eruptions that not only formed places like Craters of the Moon, but some cool caves too!
According to Visit Southern Idaho, the caves developed when those lava streams from those eruptions formed a crust, cooled and left behind tube that lava could flow through. Eventually the Idaho's volcanoes became inactive and all that was left behind were the caves. That's how Kuna Caves and this cool cave near Idaho Falls came to be!
A friend posted some photos of a spelunking adventure she and her husband went on. Just from the entry alone, I immediately knew they weren't at the Kuna Caves. They were visiting a cave nicknamed 17 Mile Cave. The entryway is a bit narrow, but once you squeeze through it you're inside a fairly wide cave, but super dark cave. If you decide to explore it, you'll definitely want to bring a flashlight in addition to a headlamp and a jacket. It can get really chilly down there!
So, with a name like 17 Mile Cave why do we say this is a great cave for beginners? According to RexburgFun, the cave earned it's nicknamed for it's proximity to Idaho Falls, not how long the cave is. The cave itself is about 1/4 mile long (the length of a high school track if you straightened it out) and nearly impossible to get lost in. You'll know you made it to the end when you reach the two pools. The bloggers explain that unlike similar caves in the area, this one is easy to walk through with a pretty smooth floor.
Unfortunately, due to its ease of access, 17 Mile Cave is a popular destination for people who want to party. It's walls are covered in graffiti. Some of it looks like its been done by talented street artists and looks pretty cool. Other areas? Well, its clearly somewhere young people wanted to leave their mark and some inappropriate words. We don't condone spray painting a natural wonder like this.
That said, RexburgFun does point out that the cave is on private property and the owner generously allows the public so act accordingly. How do you find it? Look for the "Elephant Hunters" historical marker along US 20 about, you guessed it, 17 miles west of Idaho Falls. Look for the little dimple down the dirt road and you should find it. Click here for the GPS coordinates.
BTW, take some time to read the marker when you park. It's fascinating to learn about the animals that roamed Idaho before the climate here got warmer. Who would've thought elephants were once native to the Gem State?
Want to see what you were in for? My friend was nice enough to let me share some of her pictures with you!