Just short of an hour’s drive through Dixie National Forest is one of Utah’s largest lava tubes, Mammoth Cave, featuring a tunnel complex of over 2200 feet of passageways.
The natural underground tunnels were formed thousands of years ago by cooling lava and flowing water. The combination of heat and cooling carved out an incredible tunnel system that makes for great exploring for all ages.
After walking about thirty yards from the trailhead, it might come as a surprise to see a gigantic hole in the ground, which is the entrance to the cave.
There are a couple different entrances that can be easily scrambled into, which lead to tunnels of various lengths.
The most popular tunnel is actually gated off, but only for the protection of the multiple species of bats that make it their summer home. Feel free to enter the cave by crawling underneath a large opening at the bottom of the gate that allows access for adventurers of all sizes.
Once inside, it is an easy 5-10 minute walk until you get to the most technical part of the journey. Exiting the cave requires to crawl once more through an opening in the rocks that is slightly smaller than the entrance but has been smoothed over by the thousands of visitors who have braved the lava tube.
The Mammoth Cave is a great destination for anybody looking for a simple, yet fun adventure. However, there are four things that you will need to know in order to be fully prepared.
- It’s very dark inside the tunnel–it is a cave after all–so make sure that each hiker has a source of light.
- The lava tubes are made of volcanic rock, which means some parts are very jagged, so make sure to have sturdy and comfortable hiking shoes.
- The cave retains moisture year-round, which makes the rock muddy and slippery. Step cautiously and wear clothes that can get dirty, especially with the crawl at the end.
- Lastly, it can be cool on the inside, so come prepared with a jacket.
The cave is closed seasonally sometime in October or November, depending on weather conditions, which is further cause to visit soon as the month dwindles.
To reach Mammoth Cave, head up Cedar Canyon on State Road 14 for 25 miles just past Duck Creek Village. Then, take a left onto Forest Road 067 and head five miles, taking a right at Forest Road 064.
After driving for about another mile, make a left turn and look for the Mammoth Cave sign.
Story by: Connor Aste
Photos by: Reyce Knutson and Courtesy roadlesstraveled.us