Civil Defense Caves
By Katherine Botta
The East Idaho area has adventures waiting to be discovered. One of our favorites is the Civil Defense Caves
How to get there:
The Civil Defense Caves are 57 minutes from LaBelle Lake. On Highway 15, they are off Exit 337 and then go for 16.5 miles on Salem Highway. It is a great getaway from the city. You see fields of cattle, cute farm houses, and Idaho wildlife along the drive.
The turn is before a red dirt mound that takes you onto a red dirt road. The red dirt road is a fun, bumpy road, so watch out for potholes!
Once you get to the cave, there is a monument describing the caves origins. The walk down to the cave entrance and it is about 10-20 degrees colder, so remember a jacket. The beginning has rocks to scramble down. There are a few other places that require scrambling . The cave opens up big to be able to play group games.
There are two directions to go in the caves and it takes about an hour to walk through both. The ground is not smooth, so walk cautiously in some areas.
Why are they there?
The Civil Defense Caves were formed from lava tubes. The volcanic activity passed through the East Idaho area and is now sitting in Yellowstone.
They are called the Civil Defense Caves because during the Cold War in 1947-1991 they were a bunker for Civil Defense. Civil defense is training civilians to protect lives and property around wartimes. They were planning on using these caves for storing materials, bomb shelters, and military prisons.
The caves were never used for civil defense, but were ready if needed.
Things to bring:
- Good shoes
- Adventurous Spirit
Fun things to do in the cave:
- Glowstick splatter tag
- Scary ghost stories
- Shadow puppets
- Hide N’ Go Seek
- Cave paintings with chalk