The Best Caves in Wyoming: Complete List

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Wyoming represents the majestic beauty that inspired the famous poem, America the Beautiful, in 1893. The well-known Yellowstone National Park is found here, where over 3 million people visit each year. In addition to mountains and prairies, there are a few noteworthy caves to be found in Wyoming as well.

Most of these caves are accessible to the public, as well. Wyoming has an extended history of mining, so many efforts have been made to excavate ancient artifacts and minerals.

Next time you find yourself somewhere near the Bighorn Mountains, you’ll have this list to go through for extra adventure.

Bighorn Cavern

This section of the caverns was discovered in 1961, located about 700 feet northeast of Horse Thief Cave. In 1966, it graduated to a National Recreation Area.

In the Mississippian time period, about 360 million years ago, this region of Wyoming was submerged by an inland sea. The geographical changes that occurred since have caused the Rocky Mountains to become one of the most spectacular cave systems in the country.

With so much limestone and time for it to give way, the Bighorn Cave was one of the products. Much of this cave is still unexplored, due to how massive it is.

Getting in requires registration, as this is now a protected cave system. You have to use ropes and descend 70 feet into the darkness to enter, and then, you’re on your own! Naturally, you won’t be alone, but you will need sufficient lighting, as it is completely dark if you go deeper still.

A metal cage waits for cavers, who will use it to tie their ropes and descend into Bighorn Caverns.

Darby Canyon Ice Cave

Darby Canyon Ice Cave. Wind Cave. Darby Ice Cave. Darby Canyon Cave. The Caves of Darby Canyon. Whatever you call it, you should beware of this one.

This cave is incredibly deep, long, and cold. In addition, it’s challenging for even the most fit spelunkers. You will be bringing in 30-40 pounds of gear up the mountain for 3 miles, over 2000 feet of elevation. And this tiring hike will only be the beginning.

Going inside is a one-way street. If you get lost or hurt, there’s no turning back. You have to go all the way through, and better yet, during colder times of the year, you simply can’t.

The first 1500 feet of this cave are coated in ice all year, and include multiple vertical drops. One of these drops is over 60 feet. One misstep can have you slipping and falling down the ice until a rock stops you, or kills you.

Do not try this cave unless you are going with an experienced group. Sounds fun, though, doesn’t it?

A caver rappels down into the Darby Ice Caves, surrounded by ice.

Great Expectations Cave

Great Expectations is a fantastic name for this cave, though it’s likely to blow any of those expectations out of the water. This is Wyoming’s deepest cave, featuring about eight miles (12.9 km) of surveyed passageways, and a top-to-bottom height of more than 426.8 feet.

In addition to being the deepest cave, Great Expectations Cave features the largest cave room in the state, called the Great Hall. This room is over 2000 feet (610 meters) long, and 100 feet (30 meters) high!

To get here, you will have to go east of Greybull, Wyoming, to the Big Horn Mountains. Follow the creek as it descends into the cavern, reappearing 6 miles (9.7 km) down the canyon. This region is called the “Grim Crawl of Death.”

If you’re a bit anxious, don’t worry, The National Spelunking Society offers NSS members safe access to the cave for recreation, exploration, or science. So whether you’re an amateur on an adventure or a speleologist yourself, that’s your best route for testing whether this cave will meet your own great expectations.

Horse Thief Cave

How’s that for a creative name? Horse Thief Cave, found at the base of the Bighorn Mountains, is almost hidden in plain sight.

When walking by it, you might not even notice it. The mouth of this cave is small, but it leads to a massive 700 foot space immediately upon entrance.

Naturally, horse thieves used this convenient location to make haste with their new finds, disappearing into the dark where it was not easy to follow them. In addition, it is situated in such a way that lookouts could easily spot someone approaching, but remain hidden from sight until it was too late.

The entire cave system spans over 20 miles of passageways, with more left undiscovered. Perhaps you can contribute to mapping out more of this wild cave.

Kane Caves

The Kane Caves are single passage caves, with relatively short length. These are solution caves, and there are four in total. Their names are Hellespont at 65 feet (19.8 meters), Salamander at under 10 feet (3 meters), Upper Kane at 950 feet (289.6 meters), and Lower Kane at 1060 feet (323 meters).

The region where you find them is called Little Sheep Mountain, located about 19 miles south of the Bighorn Cavern caves.

Hellesponte Cave is an active, wet, sulfuric acid cave. There’s a constant rotten egg odor emanating from here, due to the poisonous hydrogen sulfide gas. Definitely a pass.

Salamander Cave is tiny, because of a ceiling collapse that blocked it off. Freshwater flows at over 1300 gallons per minute from the blockage.

Upper Kane Cave is inactive, though still quite large. Lower Kane Cave on the other hand is still active. Lower Kane Cave, being the largest, features more activity and unique traits, such as microorganisms that have been studied extensively.

A map shows the location of the four Kane Caves in Wyoming's Little Sheep Mountain.

Natural Trap Cave

Natural Trap Cave is quite interesting, and my personal favorite in the state. A pit cave in the Bighorn Mountains, it earned its name because anything that fell in was never able to get back out until modern human history.

A 15-foot-wide (4.6 meters) hole in the ground leads directly to an 80-foot-deep (24 meters) plunge, and it’s nearly impossible to see from a distance while walking toward it.

This video goes into the cave in detail, as well as some of the efforts that have been made to ensure no accidental falls would occur again.

With a metal grate installed over the hole, animals are also now safe. But before that, innumerable animals had fallen to their death, causing their remains to pile up near the bottom and lay waiting for archaeologists to discover in recent years. At a consistent 42 degrees Fahrenheit and 98% humidity, some of these remains date back to over 30,000 years ago, and had been preserved quite well due to the environment.

Today, it requires a crew to rappel into the cave, with trainers and support staff. It’s not an easy task, especially when only one person may descend at at a time.

Sinks Canyon Cave

Sinks Canyon is the name of a region in Wyoming that was used for thousands of years by people and animals alike, to travel to the Wind River Mountain Range. The Native Americans left rock art on the canyon walls, and used the stone for making tools.

Prior to the 1930s, this place was called the Big Popo Agie Canyon. Now, it’s a part of Sinks Canyon State Park, located in Lander. Perhaps the main reason it earned its name, will be understood when you see the river disappear in front of your eyes as it heads into the cavern below.

Today, Sinks Canyon Cave is one of Wyoming’s most popular caves, and well-worth a visit at any time during the year.

A view of the river as it seeps down into Sinks Canyon Cave.

Shoshone Cavern National Monument, or Spirit Mountain Cave

We begin this list with the Shoshone Cavern National Monument, established in 1909 by President William Taft. Later, in 1954, Congress abolished it and transferred the 210 acres to the city of Cody, Wyoming. Finally, in 1977, after 23 years of neglect, the Bureau of Land Management stepped in, and the national government is overseeing the monument once more.

The back and forth with this cave provoked debates over whether public lands ought to be under local or national government management.

Some experts suggest that this cave extends beyond 4000 feet below the entrance, making it one of the deeper caves in the country. But it’s also one of the most difficult caves to get to, and not popular by any means, which led to its lack of development and proper management.

If you make the trip, the view at the opening, overlooking the Shoshone River and entrance road to Yellowstone National Park, is magnificent.

However, a heavy steel gate bars entry to the cave, and spelunkers must now show a permit to explore the cave.

Some say that had it remained open, tourists on the way to Yellowstone could have taken exciting tours of this 2000-foot deep cavern. Massive beds of sparkling crystals are inside, and it’s unlikely that most will ever get to see them now.

Instead, Spirit Mountain Road remains unmarked. Traveling there isn’t safe nor recommended for the average tourist. It’s 3/4ths of the way up the mountain, and the interior of the cave is extremely steep. Hundreds of rooms sprawl out from the main entrance, making it easy to get lost.

It remains one of the big “what-ifs” in Wyoming.

Tongue River Cave

Tongue River Cave is located west of Dayton, in the Bighorn National Forest. But similar to Spirit Mountain Cave, recent years have seen relentless vandalism, littering, and even theft. Now, the U.S. Forest Service labels it a “sacrifice cave”, determining that it is no longer worth or even possible to preserve.

In July 2010, this cave was officially closed to the public, but has been reopened since.

With 1.2 miles (1.9 km) of passageways, and a descent of about 106 feet, it’s a sizeable cave for exploring in a small group. There is an active river that flows through it, leading to an intersection about half a mile into the cave with another river channel that is now abandoned.

Inside, you can find two species of bats, the Townsend’s Big-eared Bat, and the Fringed Myotis, though it’s likely they may have relocated. Less exciting to see are the multitude of rats that can be found in the lower crawlways.

All in all, this cave does not get a lot of press, but it’s an interesting journey nonetheless.


Bordered by several states, you can make a trip across state lines and find some more caves if you aren’t satisfied here. Feel free check out our guides on each of these neighboring states next:

Colorado Caves

Idaho Caves

Montana Caves

Nebraska Caves

South Dakota Caves

Utah Caves

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