Idaho Nature July 26, 2017
You Have To See This Underground Lava Cave In Idaho With Your Own Eyes
It’s the middle of summer and many Idahoans are looking for ways to stay cool. What better way to beat the heat than to seek solace in an underground cave? And this isn’t just any cave. The Mammoth Cave is the largest volcanic cave in
the world that is open for the public to explore. This cave definitely lives up to its name.
But wait, there’s more. When you’re done exploring the cave, you can stop by the Shoshone Bird Museum, which is chock full of hundreds of artifacts and bizarre taxidermy animals. There’s a lot more to see beyond what simply appears to be a roadside attraction, so be sure to check it out.
The Mammoth Cave and Bird Museum are located eight miles north of Shoshone, Idaho, off of scenic state highway 75. It's hard to miss! Just keep an eye out for the signs and offbeat sculptures that greet you when you drive in. The exterior certainly has a unique character of its own.
Located in what feels like the middle of nowhere, the place itself looks like something from out of this world. The tour is a quarter mile long and self guided. You are provided with a lantern but bringing your own flashlights is also recommended. The cave stays at a cool 41 degrees all year long, so a light jacket might be a good idea.
The cave certainly has a rare history that you'll be fascinated to learn about. Many people mistake the cave for an ice cave, which it is not (although it might have been an ice cave at one point). Alternatively, it is considered a lava tube and was formed millions of years ago when a volcanic eruption north of Shoshone filled the valley with lava.
Skeletons of animals have been found in the cave, suggesting that it was used perhaps by both prehistoric humans and animals for shelter. Also, there are records showing that in 1902 some sheepherders explored it and wrote their names on the wall. It wasn't until 1954 when the current owner and his wife discovered the cave and gained the title to it.
Survivalists and doomsday preppers will be excited to know that during the Cold War era, the government approached the owner and asked if they could use his cave to store supplies and food for up to 8,000 people in the event that the United States underwent an attack. The owner agreed, and enough supplies to last two decades were stored in the cave.
After you're done exploring the cave, the Bird Museum is a must visit. This eccentric museum is stuffed to the brim with unique items to look at. Even the museum's building was built out of lava rock.
The majority of the museum is made up of stuffed animals, with pretty much any species that you can think of. There are even double headed animals! You'll see taxidermy bears, sheep, wolves, snakes, and even a shark...but that doesn't even begin to name everything.
There are all kinds of fossils and artifacts to gaze at, including mammoth bones, Native American artifacts, and other fascinating antiquities. If you see past the kitsch, the museum's collection is actually mind blowing! You could spend hours in here taking it all in.
Idaho's Mammoth Cave and Bird Museum is located at Mammoth Cave Rd, Shoshone, ID 83352. They charge $10 for adults, $5 for ages 16 and under, and anyone under 6 is free. They are open 9 am to 6 pm, seven days a week. This is an Idaho treasure you definitely have to check out for yourself. For more information, visit their website
Have you visited the Mammoth Cave? What’s your favorite underground cave in Idaho?
And don’t forget to check out the
Epic Cave Hike Every Idahoan Should Cross Off Their Bucket List!