Just 15 minutes from Duck Creek Villageis one of Utah’s largest lava tube caves: Mammoth Cave. Off of a dirt fire road from State Road 14, simply follow the signs to get to the parking area for visitors. This cave is the remnant of a once-active underground lava flow that is now a hollow part of the earth around it. There are four entrances of various sizes leading into the cave’s 4 large tunnels. Each entrance looks like a hole in the ground, and the smaller entrances can even be easy to miss. The cave encompasses over 2200 feet of passage space, extending ¼ mile (400m) in length. With its elevation at 8050’ above sea level, the temperature inside stays cool year-round and can acquire a good amount of moisture as well. One tunnel in the cave is gated off each year from October until April, to maintain a safe home for hibernating bats. Some parts of the tunnels are easy to walk through at first and then will get progressively smaller to the point of needing to crawl. Make sure you wear sturdy shoes, pants, and have a flashlight handy!
Just a couple miles up a dirt fire road from Mammoth Cave, lies another local gem: Bowers Cave. Bowers Cave is a lesser-known lava tube cave like Mammoth Cave. It has a smaller layout, and does require a bit more effort to enter. The main entrance to this cave is a bit harder to find, so luckily an old tree trunk has been stuck into the entrance to help visitors spot it and aid in climbing in. The entrance has a 15-foot drop into it, although another smaller entrance is accessible by crawling through the tight space.
Bowers cave provides a home for local bats to hibernate over winter, some of which are an endangered species. The cave is closed from around October through April each year to provide a safe environment for these bats, and to encourage their return.
Duck Creek Ice Cave is one of the most visited caves in the state of Utah. Unlike other local caves Mammoth Cave and Bowers Cave, Ice Cave is not a lava tube cave. Ice cave is a small chamber that was slowly eroded over time from water seeping through the limestone that encompasses it. It is 60 feet by 40 feet, and about 15 foot high. The elevation sits around 8500 feet above sea level, and gets its name from the year-round ice and just above freezing temperatures of the cave’s floor. The entrance to the cave sits elevated above the cavern below, so the warm air on the outside of the entrance does not affect the cool air trapped in the cavern. The limestone deposits that are home to this cave are between 30-50 million years old, and showcase a beautiful array of colors in the stone. The entrance is angled and slippery year-round, so be sure to wear sturdy shoes and take extra precaution when exploring!