Wyoming Caves, Nature March 15, 2018
The Little Known Cave In Wyoming That Everyone Should Explore At Least Once
One of the coolest things about Wyoming is that, although there is more than enough wilderness to explore in our wide open spaces, there are also numerous fascinating places to discover underground. In fact, there’s a cave in the Bighorn National Forest that everyone should explore at least once in their lives. It’s historically significant for the diverse assortment of cave formations, plus, it’s fairly easy to get to and appropriate for cavers of practically any skill level.
An adventure is hiding in the Bighorn Mountains.
There's a cave near the Little Tongue River that flows through the Bighorn National Forest west of Dayton.
You'll have to hike a bit to get there, but the path is well-established and pretty easy to tackle.
When you reach Tongue River Cave, take a minute to rest. You'll be doing a lot more climbing once you enter than you did to get there.
The U.S. Forest Service has done what they can to keep the cave maintained and safe for climbers.
The Tongue River Cave is about 106 feet deep and stays at about 50 degrees at all times. Because of the temperature difference between the subterranean chambers of the cave and the surface, water droplets collect on the ceiling near the entrance and continually fall like rain, earning that particular chamber its name: the Rain Room.
There have been over 1.2 miles of passages mapped in the Tongue River cave since 1969.
There is an active river channel as well as an abandoned one that make up the majority of the cave. The water you'll see running through it is actually part of the Little Tongue River.
Once you've gotten about 750 feet into the cave, it gets a bit windy, and the passage tapers down significantly.
The wind is the result of the cave's barometric atmosphere equalizing with the pressure existing outside the cave.
It gets so narrow, in fact, that you'll have to crawl as you progress on.
Tongue River Cave was once home to Townsend's big-eared bats as well as the fringed Myotis species, but it's believed that they've moved on to less-traveled areas of the canyon so you might not spot any during your subterranean tour.
However, you might catch sight of cave rats, or at least hear them scuttling about.
The traffic through Tongue River Cave was much heavier long ago. Theft of a number of the cave's formations and other vandalism caused the U.S. Forest Service to close it to the public in 2010.
The decision to close the cave also took into consideration the health of the bats that still lived there at the time.
Though fully restoring the cave wasn't possible, the U.S. Forest Service did reopen it to the public in 2015.
You do need to register with the U.S. Forest Service and obtain a permit before exploring the cave, but that's no trouble at all for a day's worth of adventure underground in the Bighorn Mountains.
Just take a look:
Have you visited Tongue River Cave since it was reopened in 2015? How far in did you go? Are there other little-known caves in Wyoming everyone needs to explore at least once?
If you enjoy underground exploration, you’ll want to check out these
5 Caves In Wyoming That Are Like Entering Another World.