As dawn breaks over Teton Valley, and the first glimmers of sunlight play on the horizon, the Darby Canyon Wind Cave promises a day of discovery.
For many, the allure of the cave isn’t just the physical challenge — it’s the stories the landscape whispers. Every turn, every ascent and every floral bloom has a tale to tell.
The trail is located in Driggs, Idaho, the hike is approximately 5.4 miles round-trip with an elevation of over 1,800 feet.
To get to the starting point of the hike, drive south from Driggs along Highway 33. After a brief 3-mile drive, take an eastward turn onto 3000 South. Travel for another 3.2 miles before making a right at a T-junction, with signposts leading the way to the South Darby trailhead.
The journey kicks off at the trailhead and moves upward across a footbridge. As hikers progress eastward, they’ll cross into the boundaries of the renowned Jedediah Smith Wilderness. The trail here is known to challenge experienced hikers with its 1,200-foot ascent over a 1.5-mile stretch.
As you hike further into the Jedediah Smith Wilderness, you’re not just traversing miles, but traveling through time. The ancient rock formations, worn and weathered, stand as silent sentinels to the passage of countless seasons.
The soft murmur of the wind and the distant call of a hawk remind you that this land, with all its beauty, has seen both tranquility and tumult. Each step is a testament to the age-old bond between humans and nature.
The trail leading up to the cave offers visual spectacles of untouched natural beauty, from the delicate wildflowers painting the trailside to the riot of colors that autumn ushers in.
The diverse landscape often make one pause, not just to catch a breath from the physically demanding ascent, but to soak in the serene vistas.
Midway through the hike, the wind cave reveals itself. Hikers must stick to the right at a 2.5-mile trail split, leading them through creek crossings and switchbacks toward the cave.
Midway, as you approach the poignant memorial of the Darby Girls Camp hikers, there’s a palpable heaviness in the air. It’s a space where the joy of exploration intertwines with reverence for those who came before.
The poignant memorial stands along the path, paying homage to five hikers from Darby Girls Camp who tragically lost their lives to lightning in the canyon. This somber reminder emphasizes the canyon’s unpredictable weather, urging hikers to stay alert and retreat at any sign of adverse weather conditions.
The cave entrance looms, both inviting and intimidating. The darkness within seems to beckon, holding secrets from eons past. As you inch closer, the chilly gust from the Ice Cave greets you, an ancient breath from deep within the earth. Venturing inside is not just about the thrill; it’s about connecting with the primordial, with the very essence of the land that’s been here long before us and will remain long after.
The true adventure begins at the mouth of the cave. Here, hikers are met with a technical challenge that requires crawling and maneuvering through tight spaces. But those who embark on this subterranean exploration are rewarded with captivating underground wonders.
Those daring enough to go inside should only do so with the right equipment and experience.
Equipment rentals at the Outdoor Recreation Center would be highly recommended as the Darby Canyon Wind Cave is known as a technical cave terrain. The cave is fraught with risks, including chilling waters and precarious drop-offs.
Inside, a gusty wind, stemming from a link to the adjacent Ice Cave, gives the Wind Cave its name.
Like any trek in the Tetons, those hiking to the wind caves should be conscious of wildlife, especially bears. Carrying bear spray, traveling in groups and maintaining noise can deter unwelcome encounters.
A guide to Darby Canyon Wind Cave can be found on the Caribou-Targhee National Forest’s official website. Those keen on exploring more of the Teton Valley can find valuable insights on the site.
To enjoy more outdoor events, BYU-I’s outdoor events can be seen online.