Mammoth Cave – Explore the Lava Tubes in the Dixie National Forest in Utah


In Southern Utah, just north of Duck Creek, lies Mammoth Cave.  Mammoth Cave is a series of lava tubes that are great to explore!

Located on Cedar Mountain, just north of Duck Creek is Mammoth Cave.  Mammoth Cave is a series of lava tubes that have turned into a fun cave to explore.

The information sheet outside of Mammoth Cave.

The information sheet outside of Mammoth Cave.

To get to Mammoth Cave, take Highway 14 out of Cedar City.  Keep driving until you pass Duck Creek Village.  You will take the first major paved road to the left.  This road connects Highway 14 to Highway 143, but driving down it you will find signs leading you to Mammoth Cave.  Just follow the signs, and you will arrive.

Our kiddos gathering in the main entrance to Mammoth Cave, waiting to explore!

Our kiddos gathering in the main entrance to Mammoth Cave, waiting to explore!

Mammoth Cave is located right at the parking spot.  There is no hiking to get to the cave.  There are five entrances and three tunnels you can explore.  While we were at Mammoth Cave, we only explored the two largest tunnels.

This grate covers the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, in the winter it is closed to protect the bats, in the summer a lower section is opened to allow access.

This grate covers the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, in the winter it is closed to protect the bats, in the summer a lower section is opened to allow access.

The largest tunnel is reached by going down into the main, large opening and heading to the east.  There is a large metal grate that has an opening at the bottom.  This opening is closed in the winter, so that the bats can have a safe place to winter.  In the summer, you can crawl through the opening and go through this tunnel.

At the beginning of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, walking is easy, and can be accomplished standing up and several people wide.

At the beginning of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, walking is easy, and can be accomplished standing up and several people wide.

Towards the end of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, it is still wide enough to walk in, but the ground is strewn with boulders of various sizes.

Towards the end of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, it is still wide enough to walk in, but the ground is strewn with boulders of various sizes.

This tunnel is fairly large and wide for the most part.  We were able to go through it without ducking, and the kids were able to make it just fine with their flashlights and headlamps.  Right until the very end.  At the very end, the exit is a tight fit.  We were with a group with four adults and eight kids, the oldest of which was nine and the youngest of which had yet to turn a year.  We created a chain up, helping the kids through.  One of our kids affectionately named the exit to this tunnel “the birth canal.”

The beautiful Mommy Crusader climbing up through the gate over the exit of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave.  She just went through, what my kids dubbed, "the birth canal."

The beautiful Mommy Crusader climbing up through the gate over the exit of the largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave. She just went through, what my kids dubbed, “the birth canal.”

After we made it through this tunnel, we went back to the main entrance.  We headed down the west tunnel.  This is the second largest tunnel.  This tunnel is shorter, but is quite a bit smaller.  We had to walk ducked down for most of the tunnel.

This is the entrance to the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, this is inside the main entrance of Mammoth Cave.

This is the entrance to the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave, this is inside the main entrance of Mammoth Cave.

From the beginning, the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave is lower and requires ducking down for the adults.  The kiddos were just fine.

From the beginning, the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave is lower and requires ducking down for the adults. The kiddos were just fine.

The last section of this tunnel is very low, and the rocks are all over.  You will be crawling/stomach sliding through this last section.  It was comical, because our toddler, who actually could walk and slide between the rocks was also crawling on her stomach because everyone else was.  This section wasn’t was loved, and my kids decided to name it as well.  They named it the “massage of death.”

Here the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave gets shallower.  The kids were able to still move through it just fine, but the adults were on their hands and knees.

Here the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave gets shallower. The kids were able to still move through it just fine, but the adults were on their hands and knees.

After we had traversed the two largest tunnels, and exited via “the birth canal” and the “massage of death” it was decided that we didn’t want to enter the third tunnel.  The entrance to the third tunnel is above the entrance to the largest tunnel, and although it had been a fun experience, the thought of exiting the third tunnel was producing panic in some of the party.

Exiting the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave. This is the end of the 'massage of death' as my kids named it.

Exiting the second largest tunnel of Mammoth Cave. This is the end of the ‘massage of death’ as my kids named it.

I highly recommend visiting Mammoth Cave if you are in Southern Utah.  The lava tubes are amazing and it is a very fun experience.  The kids really enjoyed it, and they enjoyed that they can do it easier than the grownups.  The two tunnels we explored were, for the most part, large and easy to explore.  The exits were tenuous, but they made for great stories afterwards.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *