Behind the Business: Part 2 - Idaho’s Mammoth Cave

“That’s the way nature is, and history… it’s just all a bunch of things,” said Olsen.
Published: Jun. 1, 2023 at 10:16 AM MDT
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SHOSHONE, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) — Idaho’s Mammoth Cave and the Shoshone Bird Museum of Natural History has been giving southern Idahoans a quick and affordable adventure for over seven decades now.

Recently, in honor of the tourist attractions late founder, Richard Olsen, they have opened a new space they call the Richard Arthur Olsen Museum of Natural History.

“It’s just like the other museum – it’s filled with everything you can imagine from all over the world, and we were proud to open it last year,” said Managing Owner, Katie Olsen.

Now, combined with the Shoshone Bird Museum, both buildings feature almost any type of taxidermist animal on this planet. And from native Idaho spears and arrowheads to Mayan and Aztec artifacts, ancient Hebrew pottery to even jewelry found in the Sahara Desert - it’s hard to articulate the theme of this place.

And for the owners, that’s the way they like it.

“That’s the way nature is, and history… it’s just all a bunch of things,” said Olsen.

But this attraction is not just about the museums packed full of wonders.

Just steps away sits a world of its own wonders… under the Idaho landscape.

That’s because over 12,000 years ago, volcanic activity left behind a landscape full of caves and lava tubes.

And one of those is Idaho’s Mammoth Cave.

“We’re known for being a fallout shelter. During the cold war the government approached my dad because of the immense size of this cave about turning it into a fallout shelter incase disaster struck.”

The cave has a maintained path reaching about a quarter of a mile. And along the way you might even see remnants of Idaho’s past.

“Before my dad actually found the cave some sheep herders came down here in 1902 and they signed their names on the wall with their charcoal torches. Obviously other people have done the same,” said Olsen.

In the cave we ran into Boise resident, Eric King. He had always heard about the cave and museum and decided to check it out for himself.

“It was a good drive and a fun destination…. Just thought I’d check it out. It’s all good! Very unique, I’m glad I came,” said King.

Now if you are curious as to the price tag for hours of adventure, you might be surprised how affordable it is.

“General admission now includes all three attractions: The Shoshone Bird Museum, the Richard Arthur Olsen Museum of Natural History, and the cave. It’s $15 for adults, children 12 and under are $9 and children 5 and under are free,” said Olsen.

Idaho’s Mammoth Cave, the Shoshone Bird Museum and the newly added Richard Arthur Olsen Museum is Natural History is located 10 miles north of Shoshone – and one and a half miles west, off of Highway 93.