Darby Wind Cave - Backpack, Cave, Hike, and Rock Climb near Driggs, Idaho
Darby Canyon Rd, Alta, WY 83414, USA,Driggs,Wyoming
43.68641693968634, -110.96893608570099
7.6 miles E of Driggs, Idaho
Address: Darby Canyon Rd, Alta, WY 83414, USA
GPS: 43°41'11.1"N 110°58'8.2"W
Maps | Directions
State: Wyoming
Trail Length: 6.20 miles
Trail Type: Out & Back
Hike Difficulty: Intermediate
Elevation Gain: 1898 feet
Trails/Routes: 0.1-6.2 mi

Waterfalls Streams Wildflowers Paintball Permitted Pet Friendly Restrooms Bicycles Motorized Use

Backpack, Cave, Hike, and Rock Climb

Darby Wind Cave is a beautiful hike full of waterfalls, wildflowers, streams, and mountainous views. The sites you see will depend on the time of year you visit but it will always be beautiful and just a little bit of a challenge.

The trail starts out relatively flat, following along close to where the old road used to run. There are a few creek crossings which will vary in difficulty depending on how much snow there was over the winter and how long it's been since things began to thaw. Late summer will usually find you crossing dry or nearly dry creek beds. If you hike when runoff is high, there are log bridges. You don't have to be highwire ready but one of the bridges will take a little bit of balance. The trail turns up South up into the canyon. About as soon as it starts to go up, you'll turn and begin a series of switchbacks (10 turns). These will take you up the East wall of the canyon.

The switchbacks are not incredibly steep but you'll gain elevation pretty quickly. After the switchback, the trail follows along a rim above the canyon where you can look across the canyon and see two beautiful waterfalls and mouth of the cave seemingly high overhead. At the South end of the canyon, you'll come across a rock overhang. It's fun at any time during the summer but earlier when the water is higher, you'll find a little waterfall and stream that the kids will love to play in and you'll be hard pressed not to soak your head and feet and cool off a bit yourself.

From the the overhang, the hike continues West along the South end of the canyon through some more forest and a beautiful meadow. Take a minute to look up from the trail to enjoy the view of Fossil Peak to the South. Just after the meadow, you'll begin another series of switchbacks up to the falls and cave. The first set (2 turns) will take you up to a dispersed campsite and monument. The next leg will take you to the creek where you can look up and get photos of the falls and cave. The next set puts you out just underneath a very large and beautiful waterfall that drops out over a ledge. The ledge itself is a popular repel accessible from above. You can walk all the way around these falls and even catch some spray on the downwind side. The next set of switchbacks are stairs cut out of the rock. Halfway will take you to an even better view of Fossil Peak and the remainder will take you to the mouth of the cave itself. To enter the cave, you'll have to cross one more creek which can be pretty scary and dangerous when the water is high. Entering the cave during high water can be just as scary.

Once you're in, the Wind Cave snakes through the Darby Formation, a thick layer of 350 million year-old dolomite. A flashlight for the cave is a definite must. Near the mouth, there's a series of ledges popular for bouldering. Just up about 100 yards, you'll come to a small hole you'll have to crouch to get through. You'll quickly realize why they're called the wind caves as you're blasted with wind from the caves coming out that hole. After about 200 yards, you'll want your climbing gear. The caves stretch for miles and if you go far enough, you'll enter the part known as the ice caves. Travel far enough, you'll come out the other side. Be careful though. The cave becomes pretty cavelike and it's really easy to get lost and, even in the busy season, it may be days until that nightmare ends with a rescue team. 

The hike is about 3.1 miles from the South Fork Darby Canyon trailhead to the caves and is a 1,800 feet elevation gain. You'll find a lot of resources that claim the hike is a shorter distance.  These sources either begin from the end of the old road or don't take into account one or both series of switchbacks. The cave itself sits at 8,940 feet above sea level.

Be courteous, informed, and prepared. Read trailhead guidelines, stay on the trail, and don't feed the wildlife.

Read More
  1. Plan Ahead and Prepare
  2. Travel & camp on durable surfaces
  3. Dispose of waste properly
  4. Leave what you find
  5. Minimize campfire impacts
  6. Respect wildlife
  7. Be considerate of other visitors

Directions

From Driggs, Idaho

  1. Head south on ID-33 E/N Main St toward E Little Ave
    Continue to follow ID-33 E
    (3.0 mi)
  2. Turn left onto W 3000 S
    Entering Wyoming
    (3.2 mi)
  3. Turn right onto S Stateline Rd (0.1 mi)
  4. Continue onto Darby Canyon Rd
    Destination will be on the left
    (4.2 mi)
or

The trailhead is located about 20 minutes outside the town of Driggs. It is very easy to miss Darby Road turnoff from Highway 33, three miles south of Driggs ID; the turn off is just south of the Spud Theater. Drive several miles up the canyon till you see the trailhead.

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Guest Review/Comments

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endovereric

8/13/18 6:10 pm 8/11/18
It was really hot but not so hot as the lowlands, I guess. We took 4 11 year old scouts. It was pretty tough for them. A lot of that may have been the heat. The creek coming out of the cave still had water but not a ton. The waterfall below the cave was just a little more than a good shower. We weren't able to see it from the trail. The wildflowers in the meadow were huge and beautiful and the creek was VERY easy to cross to get into the cave.
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endovereric

7/15/17 11:27 am 7/14/17
We took 12 children between the ages of 2 months and 11 years. There were 6 adults, 4 of which carried kids. It seemed like more elevation this time due to the kid carrying part. The water was still really high because of the heavy winter so we weren't able to get into the caves but that also meant there was still water at Darby Creek Falls. That was probably the most enjoyable part of the hike for the kids. The falls underneath the caves were also spectacular though.
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jamadeus

5/26/17 5:48 pm
A fun hike! I've done it a few times and it always takes longer than expected, but is always worth it!
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leahmia

4/13/17 4:03 pm
Great easy hike to the caves, fun spelunking inside! It gets a little tight, so don't plan on carrying a big backpack inside. Once when we were in the heart of the mountain a BYU-Idaho outdoor adventure team was there too, and they let us use their equipment to rappel down the big drop off. It was so cool! But definitely required the right equipment. If you go at the right time of year you'll see pretty wild flowers.
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endovereric

4/7/17 9:30 pm 8/5/16
This is a pretty easy grade kind of hike with a beautiful view the whole time. You do gain some pretty good elevation though. The trail goes through the bottom of the canyon then switchbacks up the side where you can see down the whole canyon. Early in the year there's a really cool waterfall before the base camp. It was totally dry when we went but that made for a pretty cool overhang. There was still just enough water coming down by the cave to have a beautiful stream and waterfall below. There were some people rapelling down right next to the lower waterfall and another guy bouldering up the wall just inside. I didn't see any anchors but I wasn't really looking at the time. It seems like you can't go wrong that close to the Tetons. It was awesome.
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