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Darby offers a climb for a cave

Published online: Apr 05, 2021 Articles, East Idaho Outdoors Kris Millgate
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Photos and story by Kris Millgate, Tightline Media.

If you’ve never been, go. If you’ve already been, go again. Darby Canyon, just outside of Driggs, offers hikers a double whammy at the end. Not one natural wonder, but two. A wind cave and a waterfall.

There’s always wind in the cave, but water on the falls depends on the time of year. Early season, it’s a steady spill. Late season, it shrinks to a trickle, but it’s still worth the 7-mile round trip trek. The trail is well worn, but steep so give yourself time to rest on the rise to nearly 9,000 feet in the Jedediah Smith Wilderness on the Idaho side of the Tetons.

Make sure you stop in the high meadow even if you’re not tired. The wildflowers want your attention. Take photos instead of petals. Beyond the showy blooms is a somber monument. It stands in memory of five people who died during a girls’ camp. Lightning struck a tree killing four teens and their leader in August of 1951. The marker recognizes that sad day in Teton Valley.

The falls and the cave are not too far off now. One more bend on incline that feels like your doubling back and you’re there. You’ll hear the water before you see the delicate green moss and tiny yellow flowers that line the falls. Now look higher. There’s a dark vertical gap in the sheer rock walls surrounding the falls. Climb closer and you’ll feel cold air rush at you like bats coming out of blackness. That’s the wind cave. Creep in. Hope you brought a flashlight. 

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