Hike Darby Canyon to the Wind Cave

Darby Wind Caves Trailhead

Spectacular views. Challenging hike. Awesome cave to explore. Well-maintained trail. Wildlife. Wide variety of wildflowers during summer. Beautiful creek. Wild huckleberries to eat along the trail. 6 miles roundtrip. Elevation gain: 1880 feet.

The best time to hike Darby Canyon is May through September, since the snow stays late in spring and comes earlier in fall.

Hiking up Darby Canyon to the Wind Caves provides spectacular views of the Jedediah Smith Wilderness and is a fun, yet challenging hike. It is a popular day hike, and many families will even take their younger children on the adventure. The trail is about 6 miles round trip, so start in the morning or early afternoon to be back before the sunset that night.

One of people's favorite activities along the hike is to pick wild huckleberries between late July and early August. Huckleberries are difficult to grow commercially, so people hiking love to pick them. Make sure to know what huckleberries look like as some berries are poisonous along the hike.

Back to the hike. Once you pass the trailhead, hike up the path and cross the footbridge as seen in the picture above. The trail will start going up the mountainside, and you will cross the boundary into the Jediah Smith Wilderness. You will ascend more than 1,200 feet in less than 2 miles. Along most of the trail you will see a colorful array of wildflowers during summer and fall colors during autumn. Wildlife can also be seen usually in the early morning or later at night.

About halfway up the hike, you will see the Wind Cave across the canyon. It was here that I saw a bear across the ravine on the other side of the canyon luckily, so make sure to have bear spray. Once you are about 2.5 miles in, the trail splits, so stay to the right to reach the cave, and you will cross the creek and climb multiple switchbacks to get there.

You will pass a memorial for 5 hikers that were killed by lightning, so quickly retreat down the mountain if thunderstorms are coming. Once you reach the cave, you'll notice water running out of it. Watch your step as the rocks tend to be slippery. This would be a good time to put on your water shoes if you brought them.

You can explore parts of the cave but will need repelling equipment if you plan on descending the steep drop-offs. There is a passage way from these steep drop offs that connects to a nearby ice cave, which produces a cold wind. This is where the name the "Wind Cave" comes from.

You will get some magnificent views of the valley and forest from the cave. Once you are ready to go back, head back down the same trail you just came up.

Rexburg Directions: Head north on Highway 20 and take Exit 339 towards Driggs and Jackson. Once you pass Driggs, the turnoff for the canyon is about 2 to 3 miles farther down the road. Take a left turn 3/4 of a mile passed the Spud Drive-in Theater onto 3000 S. Follow the road straight, and it will soon turn into a gravel road which takes you into Wyoming. When you hit the "T" in the road, turn right. Follow the road for 2 miles until you come to a fork in the road. Take the left fork, and then follow the road for 2.5 more miles. Taking a right will take you to the girls' scout camp. At the end of the 2.5 miles, you’ll come to the parking lot. Park, and walk up to the trailhead.

From Idaho Falls: Take US 26 east to Swan Valley. Turn left at the square ice cream gas station onto ID 31/Pine Creek Road and follow it until you arrive at Victor. (If you've never had square ice cream, you should definitely check it out.) Then turn left onto ID-31/N Main Street and follow the road until you get to E 3000 S just before Driggs and turn right. The directions are the same as the Rexburg directions from here.

Trailhead GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 43° 41′ 11.706″ N
Longitude: 110° 58′ 7.596″ W

Cave GPS Coordinates:
Latitude: 43° 39′ 57.684″ N
Longitude: 110° 57′ 21.474″ W

Pack List

  • Bear spray is a must
  • Change of shoes or water shoes
  • Snacks
  • Plenty of water
  • Good hiking shoes
  • Camera and tripod
  • Flashlight for the cave
  • Rain gear as the weather up there changes quickly
  • Warmer clothes if exploring the cave
Show More
Activities Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Fun!

This is such a fun hike. The waterfall and the cave are gorgeous. The last bit of trail up to the cave is a bit steep, but it doesn't last long. Be sure to bring a jacket for the cave, as it's chilly.

Little Early In The Season

Did this hike on June 10th and there was still a lot of snow! Was a pretty easy hike and not too hard or technical. We crossed the snow at the top to get to the caves and water fall but the snow made it almost impossible to get up into the cave. The snow made it a really cool hike but I would suggest going later in the summer so you are able to get up to the falls. Do be aware of the wild life. We did see some deer but on our hike out of the canyon we noticed that there was set of small wolf or maybe large coyote tracks that had followed us in since we were the only hikers that were in the area that day. A really great and I am definitely returning later in the season.

Amazing! A definite WOW!

My husband and I did this hike in July 2015. We took the pretty straight route (ha!) to get there. A wonderful hike. We always start early to see wildlife that otherwise might be gone already. The enormity of the cave was just overwhelming. We had only one head lamp and went back into the cave through the smaller hole. I was very curious as to where the opening was that the wind was coming from. I could have stayed there all day and kept going, however, my husband is not a small cave, crawl through the small openings person and I didn't want to go by myself. I'm thinking that's not a good idea. We went down below the waterfall and still felt very small indeed. I would definitely do this hike again and come more prepared.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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