We love caves and visited a perfect family cave near Soda Springs, Idaho last week. Formation Cave is a small unguided cave, and it is deep enough that you will definitely need light to navigate inside.
As you come into Soda Springs from Bear Lake, you will be on US-30. Watch for signs for the ID-34. Take a right onto main street (reset your odometer) and then 0.2 miles later, take another right (east) onto Hooper Ave. Then stay on ID-34 as it curves northward. 3.2 miles from your turn onto main street, take a right onto Trail Canyon Road. About one mile later, turn left onto a dirt road. There is a sign that says Formation Springs. This is where the cave is located, about 0.2 miles up on the dirt road.
There is a large parking area for the cave, and a trail leads across a small bridge. There was a small stream flowing here that we used to wash our hands after exploring the dusty cave! Follow the trail for about 50 yards after the bridge until it splits. The main trail continues left, but the cave is to the right. Take the right fork for about 20 yards. If you haven’t found the depression that marks the opening of the cave, you’re in the wrong place.
The climb down into Formation Cave is a little tricky if you have small kids, but we had plenty of adults and were able to haul kids ranging in ages from 1-10 without any trouble. The climb isn’t very steep, but it’s slick and the footholds are a little far for those under 5.
The Formation Cave has three main divisions. The first one is straight ahead, and you can easily explore this one without light. It only goes about 20 yards straight ahead, and there is a crack in the ceiling that lets in a little light. Be careful, though, there is a crack all around the end of this branch of the cave that that drops off a couple of feet. A seriously crawler might even find a way forward, but we didn’t make the attempt.
The second branch in this cave goes to the left. Make sure you have plenty of good lighting, because the cave has several low-hanging formations that will knock you flat if you’re not careful. With plenty of light you should be okay. This passage requires a bit of squatting for adults, and it doesn’t go too far, but it is farther than the first section.
The third and final branch of Formation Cave goes to the right. This trail is by far the longest and leads past several windows that provide a tiny bit of natural light. Still, you’d be in trouble if you tried it without a headlamp. The trail twists and turns several times, totalling about 50 yards along the way. Near the beginning of the passage on the left had side is small, forbidding passage leading down. An adult would have to crawl through on knees or slide through on the seat of their pants, but our kids really wanted to explore this passage. They said that it went in about 20 feet and opened up into a small room that was just large enough for 5 or 6 of them to stand up in. None of the adults made the crawl, and all of the kids made it out safely.
This cave is a perfect beginner cave for young families. Be sure to check out our Caves tab for more details on both guided and unguided caves in Utah and beyond!