Darby Wind Caves (Alta, WY)

Adventured: 2 June 2016

My first adventure back in Idaho was one that had been on the list since early in the summer the year before. I returned to Idaho to continue working for Yellowstone Bear World (another post that desperately needs to be made) and decided to continue making the most out of my days off in a state I’m slowly becoming obsessed with.

Darby Wind Caves have interested me because it ends in a large cave to explore with a beautiful water fall coming out the mouth. This summer we have enough staff that some of our days off overlap. One of the interns agreed to go exploring with me with the criteria of “impress me.” Darby is a good choice for that.

Coming from Idaho Falls, head up Hwy 20 to the Driggs and Jackson exit. Follow that road until you pass Driggs and the Spud theatre and turn left onto road 3000 S and follow the gravel road to the T. A right turn will take you to a fork in the road a couple miles in. Take the left route since the right takes you to a girls camp. The left will end in a decent sized loop of a parking lot. The trailhead is hard to miss.

The trail starts off easy as it crosses over a river then through a gorgeous meadow where we ran into people bird watching. The trail becomes a little steeper after you pass a large boulder, of which we had to scramble up on. The climbing here is great because of all the little handholds in the lava rocks.

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The cliff faces take your eye up to the mountains beyond, which you will be on sooner than you think. Some steep switchbacks take you up above the cliffs which is the #1 reason you want to bring a camera. The river flowing through the canyon is beautiful and helps make the views that much better. When you get above the cliffs, you can make out a long slit in the mountains on the other side – that’s the wind cave and it gets closer pretty fast.

At this point we started running into snow and frozen tops of streams. The path became really difficult to follow after a while and we ended up just winging it. We were determined to get to the cave but the snow kept getting deeper and rather difficult to traverse. After some stopping and plotting, we made it to the river right below the waterfall of the cave but decided the steep cliff and unknown edges would not be wise to risk. We turned back and ended up sledding on backpacks down. Well, he did, I slowly sidestepped down after him.

I recommend planning on this hike later in the summer after the sun and heat have melted off a lot of the snow in the easily shaded regions. None the less, a gorgeous hike and a fun adventure. It’s a moderately popular trail, we ran into at least 5 groups near the snowed areas all of which were super friendly and wanting to stop and say hi for a few minutes. There really is nothing like the hiking and outdoors community.

I plan on going back and trying again to reach the cave and delve into it before I return back to the Fort in August. If so, I’ll be back to update this post with a few more photos!

Don’t ever stop wandering, even if through the snow.

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