Post Summary: How To Reach Tea Kettle Cave in Southern Idaho
Cave exploring – scary or exhilarating?
No matter how you feel about it, I think we can all agree that it’s truly exciting!
The Pacific Northwest is one of the best regions to discover caves in the United States because of all the lava activity that happened thousands of years ago.
If you’re just starting out on your cave exploring journey, we’ve got the adventure for you! Located 1-hour outside of Twin Falls, Idaho is Tea Kettle Cave.
This mysterious and ethereal spot requires a little effort, a LOT of conservation, and tons of enthusiasm.
We’re sharing exactly how to get to Tea Kettle Cave, what to expect, and how you can care for this amazing Idaho spot for years to come.
How To Reach The Mysterious Tea Kettle Cave in Southern Idaho
Leave No Trace
Before we start to talk about ANY kind of details, it’s super important to have a quick chat about Leave No Trace Principles.
It’s especially important to be aware of these guidelines when cave exploring because the ecosystems and plants in caves can be extremely fragile.
One very important note to understand here is that there are ancient ferns growing in the center of Tea Kettle Cave, the area that receives the most light.
It’s extremely imperative that you DO NOT STEP INTO THE CENTER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.
There are so many ways you can play with camera angles, perspectives, and light that there is no reason you should be stepping on plants for a picture!
Best Time To Visit Tea Kettle Cave
We’re photographers, so normally we would recommend visiting places during sunrise or sunset (aka “Golden Hour”). But that’s not the case here!
If you are hoping to catch a sunbeam shining through the cave, it’s wise to come during mid-day when the sun it at it’s highest point.
This will give you the best chance of seeing the sun shine through the hole in the top on the cave!
Visit a similar cave during mid-day in Bend, Oregon: How To Find The Skylight Cave
What To Bring To Tea Kettle Cave
Tea Kettle Cave is located in a dry, arid part of Idaho.
This desert-like landscape doesn’t provide much (if any) shade, so bring items to protect against the sun and heat. Here’s what we recommend packing:
Hat: Sun protection is important! Grab one of our favorite bucket hats for both style and fuction.
Sunscreen: This Thinksport SPF 50 Sunscreen goes on clear, so you don’t get that annoying whitecast.
Water bottle: You can’t go wrong with a classic Nalgene water bottle. They come in tons of colors to fit your style!
Sturdy walking shoes: we’ve compared some of the best hiking boot styles and brands here!
Headlamp: This one is optional, but we found it very handy to use a headlamp so we could keep both hands free when climbing.
How To Reach To Tea Kettle Cave
Before heading out on your adventure, we recommend getting the highest clearance vehicle you can.
The access road to the cave is bumpy, rocky, and uneven. Most cars won’t be able to make it all the way – including our Mazda CX-5.
The road continually became rockier and rockier (especially near the end), and eventually we pulled our car off the road and walked the rest of the way. Because of this, wear sturdy walking shoes.
Depending on the time of year, keep an eye out for snakes too – they rest in the cool, shady parts of rocks, and at the entrance of the cave.
Finding the entrance can be tricky because there are no signs.
However, if you follow the coordinate on Google maps, the directions are accurate. Just FYI, there are no entrance fees to Tea Kettle Cave.
Driving Directions to Tea Kettle Cave
- Drive on I-84 W, looking for signs for ID-46 N to N Rd/E 1400 S to Gooding County (45 minutes)
- Continue on N Rd. Take 1300 Rd S/Dead Horse Cave Rd to Canal Rd (30 minutes, go slow!)
You can find directions via Google Maps here.
Getting Into Tea Kettle Cave
Tea Kettle Cave received its name from the teapot shape it emulates. This of it like this:
- The hole in the top is like the “lid”
- The entrance is like the “spout”
You’ll enter through the teapot’s “spout” which is a small, narrow tube that drops down into the body on the cave.
Once you are through the narrow spout, the cave opens up into the “Body of the teapot” with the top open just like a missing lid!
Climbing down into the main part of the cave requires both hands for stability, and it’s also quite dusty.
Love Idaho geology? Read more fun facts about Idaho here!
The Mysterious Ferns in the Center
Once down in the base of the cave, you’ll notice a circular area of rocks with a little grouping of ferns in the middle. Depending on the time of day you visit the cave, these ferns might be glowing in the sunlight!
These ferns grow in the rarest, toughest conditions, and are said to be over 1000 years old.
It’s VERY important that you keep off the ferns. More stomping feet may mean that they are less likely to grow, and could disappear with misuse. Please stay out of the middle!
Remember too, there are no fires allowed in the cave, and all garbage must be taken back with you. Thanks for keeping this place beautiful!
The closest town to the Tea Kettle Cave is Gooding, Idaho.
It’s possible to find some vacation rentals (like this adorable home) but we think it’s easiest to stay in the city because there are so many other cool things to do in Twin Falls!
There are much more amenities and options in the city. Plus there are so many easy and fun day trips from Twin Falls to take. It’s a convenient and easy home base for your adventures!
Other Things To Do Nearby
Looking for more caves in Southern Idaho to explore?
Nearby is Indian Tunnel, Dead Horse Caves, Shoshone Ice Caves, Boy Scout Cave, and others!
You could easily made a day trip to see all of these. Just make sure to bring plenty of water (there isn’t a lot of shade in these areas) and schedule in some time for lunch.
Nearby in Gooding, checking out Zeppe’s Pizza and Subs, the Oxbow Diner in Bliss, and the Snake River Grill in Hagerman.
For even more adventure nearby, check out the Little City of Rocks, and the Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh. During late spring, you can see the Camas lilies bloom here!
Have you visited Tea Kettle Cave or ever been spelunking before? Tell us all about your experience in the comments below!