The Underground Scene in Eastern Idaho

A young boy visits the Ice Caves outside of St. Anthony in Yellowstone Teton Territory.

Journey underground in Yellowstone Teton Territory. While Eastern Idaho is famous for its mountains, rivers, dunes, and plains, the cave systems underneath the region are just as amazing. 

So put on your headlamp, grab a jacket, and take a few days to explore the rocky underworld of Eastern Idaho!


Cave One

Start your day early and get ready to drive!

Located just 17 miles west of Idaho Falls, Idaho, don’t let the name of Seventeen Mile Cave fool you. The cave's actual length is manageable for any explorer, spanning approximately a quarter of a mile. It is rumored that the cave system used to be longer; however, a portion fell in, creating a complete blockage, so now, only a smaller section of the cave is available for exploration.

Luckily, the natural cave floor is flat, and traveling through it is pleasant. Look for pools in the deeper recesses fed by underground springs, offering a glimpse into the subterranean ecosystem that thrives within the cave's confines. Upon entering the cave, expect a cold rush of air, but the temperature becomes more bearable once inside. For optimum comfort, wear a jacket. Adults will have no trouble standing up within the caverns.

Seventeen Mile Cave offers an enjoyable and accessible underground excursion, perfect for adventurers of all ages. Take time to explore and read the historic mile marker to learn how elephant hunters roamed this region over 12,000 years ago!

The 17 mile caves is one of many lava tube systems in Eastern Idaho, a part of Yellowstone Teton Territory.
Exploring the 17 mile cave in Eastern Idaho's Yellowstone Teton Territory.
the Seventeen Mile caves are a great stop outside of Idaho Falls in Yellowstone Teton Territory.
The historic marker on the way to 17 miles caves in Yellowstone Teton Territory.

Stop for Lunch

The next cave on the itinerary is a little over 60 miles away, and it is getting close to lunchtime. Stop in Rexburg at the Millhollow Restaurant, the oldest homegrown restaurant in town, for a mile-high sandwich and soft frozen yogurt. Take some time to stroll through Rexburg’s quaint downtown before heading to your next underground destination. (For those who want to extend their spelunking expedition a little longer, Rexburg is a great place to stay and play for the whole family .) 


Cave Two

Located between Rexburg and St. Anthony, ID, you will spelunk your second cave system of the day. The Civil Defense Caves is a strange name for a natural feature. These caves have a fascinating history tied to their role as potential shelters during times of crisis, like the Cold War era (1950s-1970s). Named for their connection to civil defense strategies, the government identified these caves as possible shelters due to their natural protection and consistent cool temperatures, offering refuge from external threats.

Nowadays, the Civil Defense Caves are an interesting natural attraction. Upon entering the caves, visitors encounter two directions to explore: the “Easy Way” or the “Hard Way.” The easier path leads southeast beneath the parking area. While navigating past large rocks and icy patches, the cave floor is generally flat but not entirely smooth. Most of the journey offers ample headroom, although adventurers may encounter occasional challenges, such as scrambling over fallen rocks from the ceiling. For those seeking more excitement, take the “Hard Way,” where narrow passages like "Fat Man’s Misery" await exploration.

Insider Tip: The road to the Civil Defense Caves is dirt, so in the early Spring/Summer months, we suggest taking a truck or 4-wheel drive vehicle to navigate deep ruts and mud. 

Photo by Kristy Cain Johnson Photography of the Civil Defense Caves outside of Rexburg ID, a part of Yellowstone Teton Territory.
Photo by Thomas and Melody Banneck in the Civil Defense Caves in Rexburg, ID, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory in Eastern Idaho.


Cave Three

Your third cave expedition of the day is less than 10 miles away. Welcome to Ice Caves! Dress warmly because these caverns live up to their name. Cold temperatures have frozen the moisture within the caves over time, creating an enchanting icy landscape inside. Spanning 100 yards, you should wear footwear with traction, warm clothes, and bring a headlight to capture the glistening ice.

Plan to spend an hour or two slip-sliding around the frozen interior of the caves, where ice reaches a thickness between 3 and 6 feet, depending on the season. Early in Spring/Summer, the road to these caves can be precarious, so if you do not have a 4-wheel drive, plan an hour of driving slow and steady from St. Anthony to reach your spelunking destination.

Sliding down the ice cave outside of St. Anthony Idaho in Yellowstone Teton Territory.

Enjoy your Evening

St. Anthony is a small town but it offers cozy accommodations and homestyle cooking. Plan to stay the night at Henry’s Fork Inn and have a satisfying meal at the Silver Horseshoe Inn. Want to grab a drink and meet some locals? Spurs & Spokes makes great cocktails, has many bar games, and frequently features live music.

There is always more to the eye when visiting one of Eastern Idaho’s small towns and St. Anthony is no different. If you aren’t in a rush to leave, check out the many things to see in St. Anthony!

Photo by East Idaho News of downtown St. Anthony, Idaho in Yellowstone Teton Territory.
Photo a drug store in St. Anthony Idaho by East Idaho News in Yellowstone Teton Territory.


Cave Four

Rise and shine! It’s time to find your final cave in Teton Valley. It’s a little over an hour’s drive to your destination - the Wind Cave. However, before you lace up your hiking boots, stop in Tetonia, ID, for some steak and eggs at Badger Creek Cafe. Now that your belly is full, you are ready to find the Wind Cave trailhead in Darby Canyon, located between Driggs and Victor, ID on the east side of the valley.

Reaching Wind Caves takes a little over two hours. The hike is approximately 3.5 miles each way and involves an elevation gain of around a thousand feet. The trail is moderately strenuous, so take your time to enjoy wild panoramic views, waterfalls along the way, and wildflowers galore.

Once you arrive, prepare to lose track of time as you delve into the depths of the Wind Cave. The cave is a true wonder, from caverns soaring hundreds of feet high at the entrance where a waterfall flows in mid to late Summer to intimate crawlspaces further in. Have lunch at the mouth of the cave, take a waterfall shower, and keep an eye out for moose, bears, and bald eagles.

Note: Use caution at cave entrance for slippery conditions! Ice is still possible in early summer.

Darby Wind Cave in Teton Valley in Yellowstone Teton Territory.
Family standing outside of Darby Wind Cave with waterfall in Victor ID, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory.
A field on the Darby Canyon hike to Wind Caves in Victor ID, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory.
A moose on the trail to Darby Canyon Wind Caves, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory.

Plan your Next Adventure!

Your Underground Itinerary through Yellowstone Teton Territory is complete. Leave Darby Canyon and head to the Knotty Pine Supper Club in Victor to plan your next excursion through the region. Over burgers and drinks, get excited about the possibilities of fun in Eastern Idaho! Plan to stay the night at the nearby Teton Valley Resort. 

Always with the comfort of a city or welcoming town nearby, Eastern Idaho will engage the explorer inside of you!  Yellowstone Teton Territory adventures know no bounds, so GET OUT THE MAP and chart your course (above ground and below) through this amazing region! See where to stay, play, and recreate around the region  - YTT makes planning your trip easy!

Teton Valley Resort's pool in Victor ID.. a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory.
Suite shot at the Teton Valley Resort, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory in Victor ID.
Exterior cabin at Teton Valley Resort in Victor ID, a part of the Yellowstone Teton Territory.
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