Sure, the caves in Montana’s first state park are open for much of the year, but there’s a special feature to the Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park during December that make them a little more lit.
The rangers that conduct tours of the caves—the only access below the surface is with a guide—hand out old-fashioned lanterns outfitted with real candles that will light the way for subterranean travelers. Along the two-mile tour, guests will learn about the history of the caverns, what led Lewis and Clark to them and how the state park became what it is today. Don’t worry, if the candles go out, there is an electric light system installed on the cave ceiling that can be utilized.
With the excursion lasting about two hours, warm clothes and proper walking boots are encouraged for a comfortable trip. Throughout the caverns, the limestone walls are dotted with cave formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and helictites.
While the park is open year-round, the only days you can explore the caves during the winter are December 16, 17, 22, 23, 29 and 30. Some tips to know: Tours are first come, first served, children under five are free, and all protective and lighting gear are provided.
Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is less than an hour from Butte. For more information on one of the largest caverns in the country, go to stateparks.mt.gov and search for “Lewis and Clark Caverns.” To plan a stay in Butte, go to visitmt.com and search for “Butte.”