Headlamps provide light for spelunkers amid darkness

“The Civil Defense Caves are very unique,” said Samantha Halversen, a junior studying recreation management.

“Most of the world’s caves are limestone that have been carved out by water, but here in our area we have some really unique stuff that people don’t realize,” Halversen said. “The Civil Defense Caves are actually old lava tubes. When the hotspot that is now Yellowstone carved out areas, it carved out the Snake River Plain, and that is why it is so flat versus the hilly and mountainous other areas of Idaho.”

Halversen said she leads trips out there with Outdoor Activities and that it is fascinating every time.

“There is a lot of history with caves, especially the Civil Defense Caves,” she said.

She said the Civil Defense Caves, at one point in time were, going to be a refuge during the cold war and that they had rations there.
“They have a monument that tells you more about it,” she said.

She said when students go on excursions with Outdoor Activities, they can learn all those things.

Shannon Murphy, a junior studying recreation management, said being in the cave was a surreal experience.

“It’s just unlike anything that I have ever seen,” Murphy said.

Murphy said there are several sections of the cave that open up and others that are a lot smaller.

“There’s so many spots that you can go through and it just opens up, and it is amazing it stays like that, that it’s not going to collapse on you,” she said.

Murphy said that it isn’t claustrophobic in the caves. .

“Go with headlamps and don’t use your phones because you are going to need both your hands,” she said.

The caves are open for the public except during winter when all of the caves in the area are closed for bat hibernation. The caves are not developed. They are in a semi-wild state, which means there is a road to the cave, a sort of trail or footpath through the cave, but no other developments, according to showcaves.com.

Bring good lamps, warm clothes and sturdy walking shoes. Never go alone and tell someone where you have gone. Follow the general caving safety rules. The cave is easy to visit with general hiking ability, according to showcaves.com.

Murphy said that it is awesome when you turn off the headlamps in the cave.

“There’s sections you can turn off your headlamps and it is amazing just the silence and being in a place that is pitch black,” she said.

Halversen also said it is cool to notice the little things that make the cave so wonderful.

“When you go into the caves, you can see how the lava is formed,” she said.

She said cave visitors are standing several feet underneath the earth’s surface.

“It’s crazy to think about the rocks that are just holding up all this weight above you,” Halversen said.

Halversen said she commends students go out there.

“It’s just sweet,” she said.

Murphy said going to the Civil Defense Caves was awesome.

“Being under there is like nothing you’ve ever done before,” Murphy said.

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