Indian Cave State Park, Nebraska


Travel Journal

The second leg of the trip was a little over 300 miles. After leaving the rest area near the Marais des Cygnes National Wildlife Refuge, we continued north with the intent of bypassing Kansas City.  For the most part we did, though we did detour into some suburb in a vain attempt to find a service station that had diesel fuel.  We saw lots of shopping centers and big box stores, but only 3 fueling stations and none of them carried diesel. 

Fortunately, when the motorhome fuel meter hits 0 and the “fuel now” light comes on, there is still 5 gallons of fuel left.  It was actually intentionally designed that way.  We never let it go for very long after that and try not to let the tank get below 1/4th by indicator.

Our route did get away from the freeway and we did have to go through some towns, including Leavenworth, Kansas – we passed right by Fort Leavenworth and the Federal/military penitentiary there.

Our stopping for the next couple of nights was Indian Cave State Park.


The cave at Indian Cave State Park

Stairs to cave

Petroglyph in the cave at Indian Cave State Park


Cave at Indian Cave State Park

Panorama from several photos of cave area

Mud deposited by flood on road at Indian Cave State Park, Nebraska

Mud deposited by flood on road.

One room school at St. Deroin, Indian Cave State Park, Nebraska

One room school at St. Deroin town site.

Indian Cave State Park, Nebraska, flooding of the Missouri

Flooded road at Indian Cave State Park

(click on any photo to view larger image.)

Indian Cave State Park is named for a cave that overlooks the present channel of the Missouri River.  Petroglyphs in the cave are evidence that the cave was used by prehistoric native peoples.   There is no evidence of any permanent structures.  The cave – actually a limestone overhang – was probably used primarily as a temporary shelter for nomadic hunters.

There are 15 or more petroglyphs scattered among the more recent modern graffiti in the cave.  They were created by nomadic tribesmen 1500 to 1800 years ago.  Many of them are of American bison (buffalo).

Stairs and decking with railings help to limit modern wear and tear on the cave. 

While visitors are not supposed to go beyond these barriers, it didn’t surprise us to see a father setting a fine example for his kids by climbing over a railing and climbing up the side of a hill past a sign stating that climbing up the hill is prohibited.  (I’m not going to rant on that pet peeve.)

If we had gotten to the park a few days earlier, we would not have been able to visit the cave.  When Louis and Clark went up the Missouri in the early 1800s, the channel was a mile and half from the cave.  Today, however, the river is just below the cave, with a road running along the bank.  The river had been over the road the week before, but river level had been dropping for several days.  The mud left by the flood was several inches deep over the road, but had been “plowed” to the sides before we got there.

The river was still above flood stage, though.

We had planned to spend most of the 4th of July in the park, including doing some hiking.  Unfortunately, it looked like the weather forecast was going to right on target for a change and it was going to rain.

Before the rain started, we were able to get in a short walk and visit the site where a small river side settlement had once existed.

Shortly after that, the rain started.  It was heavy over a wide area.  Holiday festivities were canceled or limited over a wide area – we went to Lincoln to see a movie.

The rain was enough that the flooded Missouri – which had been dropping – started rising to a new flood crest.

(Each travel journal post is published on Exit78 and Haw Creek Out ‘n About .)


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