Did the Cody Caves Explorer tour. This one goes about a km back into the cave complex, and only excludes the last few hundred metres, which are on the adventurer tour.
Amazing experience. We’re a mid-50s group ok with moderate intensity hikes but with the usual variety of hip, knee, back and shoulder pains. We were all capable of the tour and the excellent guide was there to assist when an extra hand was needed.
First, the guide. We were with Orion who has guided for a decade or more and is a caver. He provided much background and context and education in the cave, along with many accounts of his experiences caving. Easily one of the best guides I’ve encountered ever. Exceptionally knowledgeable about the cave and caving. He provided excellent instruction when navigating difficult obstacles…in precise detail like, left foot here, right foot here, turn partially and slide sideways. Reassuring and encouraging throughout. He also took talking breaks after each obstacle to teach and allow is to catch our breath. He also instructed on safety equipment and briefed us fully as well as pointing out alternate emergency equipment.
The cave. We’ve done other cave tours before, the concrete/metal walkway in a large group type of tour. This is not that type of cave excursion. In the photos we are in coveralls with knee pads and we were all dusty, muddy and wet by the end of the four hours we were inside. Most of the cave is walkable either on gravel or in the creek. At certain parts you need to traverse obstacles. A ladder and narrow passage, and a large boulder fall. When there were path options these were outlined clearly.
I’m mildly claustrophobic and not always happy in tight spaces. The few tight squeezes were tolerable and easily passable for the more stout members of our party. I found that as soon as I started getting concerned about a tight space I’d be through the worst and could see the passage open up again. That said, in our group of five some of the caverns were tight quarters. Upper body strength to lift my weight helped me at one point but isn’t really critical. Listen carefully to the guide and it will not be an issue.
The 11 km road up is rough, a typical forest service road. Some water cuts on the road were deep. Other tour groups were in SUVs without trouble. Be aware in a 2WD with low ground clearance you’ll need to drive slowly and watch the road closely. A compact car could do it with caution. We came from the east shore and if you coordinate in advance you can make the 0710 ferry work. As it worked out we were at the meet point by 5 to 8 (Ainsworth Hotsprings for the explorer and adventurer tours)
The family tour could be done in runners. Any of the other tours require substantial hiking shoes/boots. Dress warmly, but in layers as the hike up the hill outside can be warm. The instructions on the website are accurate and should be followed. We were pooped afterwards so not an outing to plan something else big afterwards. You will get wet and muddy during the tour.
This was an excellent experience all around and I would encourage you give it a try. It is one of those challenges that leaves you feeling really good after you’ve achieved it. As Orion noted, the cave isn’t a physical challenge as much as a mental one, and we found this to be true. Thanks Orion and the tour team!