Back to our July tour of western Montana, some of which was covered in August posts —  While we attended the class reunion weekend at Mount Ellis Academy (I was there as a guest, not an alumna), several side trips were planned.  We missed the float trip on the Gallatin River because of severe flooding in the Three Forks basin.  My earlier blog post showed the academy’s ski hill and lodge.  On Sunday, a school bus load of us, and I believe some car loads,  went to Lewis and Clark Caverns.  That is, we rode to the parking lot and hiked from there.

Trail to Lewis & Clark Caverns

I think it was about a mile of hot trail to the cavern entrance (among the trees mid-photo),  several hundred cool and sometimes slippery steps  down through the mountain, and another hot mile-long trail (see very bottom left of photo) back to the bus.  The young bus driver helped along those of us plodding at the tail end of the group.

Had my legs been several decades younger, I doubtless would have checked out that big cave entrance near the ridge line — far right and near top of above photo.

One of the "windows" into the caverns letting in a little sunlight.

Sorry I don’t have good photos of the interior.  Most of mine are so fuzzy because they were lit only by the electric lights among the formations or the shivery camera-shake.   If you have good photos of these caverns you’d share or find some on the web, please let me know.  Most fascinating — although the formations appear on the surface to be carved out of limey caliche or concrete, their interior, when exposed, appears (and feels) like hard, smooth agate or opal.  Who knows how much of that stuff is hidden in that mountain? Within the Cavern, entire steps have been carved into this gorgeous stone for visitors to WALK on!

I delight to see how our Creator uses things in nature to illustrate spiritual truths, including our relationships with each other and with Him.  “For the Lord God does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NKJV

I believe this was the 'Cathedral Room' -- much more beautiful than shown here.

I hope to add more info to this blog post later.  Meanwhile, here’s this from Wikipedia:     “Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park is located in southeastern Jefferson County, Montana. The primary feature of the park is its namesake cavern.The cavern was discovered in 1892 by Dan A. Morrison. The site was first established as “Lewis and Clark Cavern National Monument” on May 11, 1908, but was not fully surveyed and declared until May 16, 1911 by President Taft as 160 acres (0.65 km2). The limestone cave is named after the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark since the cavern overlooks over 50 miles (80 km) of the trail from the Lewis and Clark Expedition along the Jefferson River, although Lewis and Clark never saw the cavern. It is located approximately 45 miles (72 km) west of Bozeman, Montana, and 60 miles (97 km) northwest from the northwest corner of Yellowstone National Park.  “The caverns are also notable in that much of the work done to make the cave system accessible to tourists was performed by the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps.”  “It was disbanded as a national monument on August 24, 1937, and transferred to the state of Montana. The site was formally dedicated as a state park in 1941; Montana’s first state park.”  (Partial quote from Wikipedia, eliminating the part about how many “million years” for the caverns to form.)

(Note:  The CCC boys did marvelous work across the country, making natural wonders like this available to the public, doing great conservation work, and meanwhile supporting their families at home.  I’ll write more on that program sometime.)

Weathered wood along the trail. I may bring out detail with Photoshop some day.

Thistle bloom along the trail. Note the spiral ("pineapple") pattern on the bud.

Views of flooding, Big Sky sunset and rain as seen through the bus window on our way back to the Academy —

Flooding -- Jefferson? River

Rain against the bus window.

Later, at supper, I was very embarrassed to discover that our “young bus driver” was the school principal.  Some folks found my mistake hilarious, but he kindly said he’d RATHER that I call him the Young Bus Driver.

Smiles 🙂

This entry was posted in Cave Cavern, Close up photography, Creator God, Flooding, Flowers, geology, History, Montana, Mountain Scenery, Nature, Photo Essay, Photography, river, Sky, stalactite stalagmite, Travel, weather, western United States and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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