Elephant Cave at Devil’s Lake State Park isn’t really a cave. It’s more like a big notch in the rock and is the first well-known “Point Of Interest” you’ll come to along the north end of the East Bluff Trail. Although it’s not a cave, it IS still kinda cool and here’s why;
At Elephant Cave you can see where a much older rock called quartzite (The left side of the cave) was covered by sand and rock (top and right side of the cave). The sand on the right side slowly turned to sandstone. This happened when this was a shoreline many, many years ago. The rock that makes up the top of the entrance is called “conglomerate”. If you look you can see it’s just a mix of rocks and sand that were tossed around by powerful storms far in the past and are now locked together in time. So that’s pretty cool.
Look at picture below. Check out the weird shape & lines in the sandstone wall. It reminds me of how sand slips through an hourglass. I wonder if the ancient water currents pushed this sand into a crack where it drained down the gap far in the past. Interesting to think about!
Of course, since the notch is called Elephant “Cave” everyone wants to try to fit into it. What kind of cave is it anyway?? Sadly, you’d have to be pretty small to fit inside. Even if you could, you wouldn’t get very far. Just to test the theory, we stuck a camera in there to see what we were missing. No writing, no cave paintings and it doesn’t open up to a big gallery full of glistening stalactites. It’s a just tiny gap in the rock. 🙁
So the big question of course, is why is it called “Elephant Cave”? Well, it’s named after a nearby rock called “Elephant Rock” which actually looks more like an American Bison than an Elephant… but that’s another story… Stay tuned!
To get to Elephant Cave, you simply hike up the East Bluff Trail from the North Shore of Devil’s Lake State Park. Elephant Cave is about 1/3 of a mile from the trailhead. Click here for the trail map.