Known for being one of Utah’s largest lava tubes, Mammoth Cave is a fantastic, family-friendly place to explore. The cave is roughly a quarter mile long making it an easy hike. Formed from water and cooling lava about 2,000 years ago, Mammoth Cave is still really young from a geological standpoint!
Here’s how you can explore the lava tubes:
What to Bring
First and foremost, prepare for your trek before heading into the caves. While the hike itself isn’t very long, it does get pitch black inside. A good flashlight, or better yet, a headlamp is highly recommended for each person entering the cavern. Don’t forget some backup batteries.
Even though Mammoth Cave is in Southern Utah, it’s 8,050 feet above sea level, meaning it stays pretty cool and damp with occasional standing water pooled inside. These conditions make the rocks slick. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring a jacket. And, as with any hike, bring plenty of water for everyone.
How to Get There
Getting to the cave is pretty easy; however, sometimes Google and Apple Maps give incorrect directions or lead people to private property. Once you get near Duck Creek Village, head east on State Road 14, then turn left onto Forest Road 067. Go another five miles until you can turn right onto Forest Road 064. You’ll drive for about another mile and then turn left and look for the sign. The way to Mammoth Cave is clearly marked making it easy to follow all the way to the parking lot near the lava tubes.
Photo credit: Nataliya Zasadko
Exploring the Cave
Once you’ve arrived at the cave, the first thing you will notice is that it looks like a big hole in the ground. The entrance to Mammoth Cave is quite large and easy to enter. Once you get past the first turn it’s time to pull out the flashlight as it will get quite dark very fast. Enjoy exploring the cavern trail and seeing different areas of the lava tubes. The exit to the cave is snug and requires crawling on the ground, so if you are claustrophobic or unable to fit in the area you’ll have to exit the same way you came in.
Mammoth Cave is open year-round, however certain sections close between October through April to protect bats that use the cave to hibernate. Please be respectful and stay out of those gated areas. It is good to note that even during the spring and summer months when the lava tubes are open in their entirety, there is a good chance you will see bats and other small mammals and rodents.
Adding Mammoth Cave to your itinerary is a great way to get out and explore with your family. It’s child- and teen-friendly with its shorter distance and only nine feet of elevation gain. It’s the perfect morning or afternoon activity where you can spend as much time as you want without running into crowds of other spelunkers.