Part 20: Lewis and Clark Caverns and Helena, MT


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The Trip

We had stayed in Yellowstone the previous night. Our travels took us from Fishing Bridge to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. We spent the night in the campground and planned to see the caverns the following morning. The photos below are what we saw.

When we awoke at the Lewis and Clark Caverns camp site, we had a great view of the range to the south. The campground was mostly deserted due to the fact that it was both late in the season and a weekday. I did, however, meet a fellow that knew of Unimogs. He stated that they were used as plows and snow blowers in his town.

There were more folks at the caverns and we got tickets to the second tour. While waiting in the parking lot, I spotted thin neat off road setup. I spoke to the fellow and he told me that he was from Colorado. During the conversation, he mentioned that he was aware of a dirt road system that goes from Canada all the way to Mexico. Maybe next time.

It was a pretty nice visitor centor, but less informative than some we have visited. The tour group assembled and we hiked about a mile to the caverns mouth.

The snow covered peaks and valleys to the south were clearly visible.

The hike was not all that hard, but there was a significant elevation rise between the parking lot and the entrance to the cave.

The Jefferson River, one of the thee tributaries that come together to form the Missouri River.

The entrance area of the cave had photography banned due to the bats. But, the formations began right away. The path in the cave is steep and narrow and the tour descended many hundreds of feet in elevation.

Unlike Karchner Caverns in AZ, these caverns were highly decorated with formations.

This formation had a splash cup at the top where the evaporation of the dripping water leaves a ring of minerals at the top of a stalagmite.

There was plenty of cave popcorn and other structures you would expect to see in a live cave.

There were plenty of flow formations and some were pretty big. On this trip, I bought my little camera, so the flash power was very restricted.

A busy set of formations can be seen in the photo above.

Nice drapes are visible above.

A number of the formations were damaged due to folks taking them home.

While not a good photo, this is a silica geode that has been split open.

A nice column structure covered with flow stone.

From Lewis and Clark Caverns, we traveled north to Helena, MT to visit Ben, Krista and Nick Palmer. Ben was nice enough to let us park our rig in his shop. The shop is one of the nicest I have seen and had both a toilet and a shower. Score!! Our plan was to spend a night and move on, but since he had wireless in his shop, we decided to stay an extra day and post some photos. As it will turn out, we stayed a whole lot longer than just an extra night.

Being an avid wakeboarder, Ben had recently purched a new boat. The shop was big enough that there was plenty of room for both the boat and the mog. Ben recently sold his 406 mog to make way for other toys.

Ben has a side business selling parts and assemblies of scale model RC trucks. Above is his model of a MAN 8x8 that has all-wheel drive and two speed transmission. Both sets of front wheels steer!!

Another view of the MAN.

We had a great time at Ben's and greatly appreciated their hospitality for letting us stay at their home. Tomorrow, we would break camp and head to Glacier Park. Or try to at any rate.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2008, all rights reserved.
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