U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
 
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Wilson Butte Cave

A NATIONAL REGISTER ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE


 WELCOME

This website explores Wilson Butte Cave, a National Register Archaeological Site. It examines the evidence left there by the earliest people in Idaho. Where did they come from? What were they doing here? How did they survive on the Snake River Plain, one of the harshest environments in North America?

interior of Wilson Butte Cave
Wilson Butte Cave-an air bubble in a petrified sea of lava.

Located on Idaho’s volcanic Snake River Plain, near present-day Twin Falls, Wilson Butte Cave protrudes like a rocky bubble on a vast, level sea of ancient lava.  If you wandered near it, like native people probably did in search of game, you would be drawn to it, wondering what was there.

You would be surprised at what you find. The rocky bubble has a hole in it. A portion of the east side of the rock bubble has collapsed, like a fallen ruin. Big black boulders frame an opening into a large, cool cavern that offers protection from the wind, rain and heat outside.

Archaeologists have unearthed evidence that native people found Wilson Butte Cave at least 10,000, and possibly 15,000 years ago, and camped there until recent times. It provides the first evidence of human occupation on the Snake River Plain. Wilson Butte Cave is also one of just a few sites which, taken together, provide the earliest evidence of human presence in North America.

This website is organized in two parts. The first part, Wilson Butte Cave, examines the discoveries made at Wilson Butte Cave during archaeological excavations in 1959 and 1988. The second part, Prehistoric Idaho, examines the environment in North America as the Ice Age ended and how people came to live in southern Idaho.  Explore both sections to learn about the first people who took shelter in Wilson Butte Cave, the landscape they found when they arrived, and how both have changed and adapted through the march of time.

Next Page: Occupation Period

 



 

 



climate change over the past 16,000 years

View the location map.


GO TO THE CAVE
Discoveries
Occupation Period
Who Camped Here
What Was Found
Daily Life

Excavation
History
Age Dating
Meet the Team


PREHISTORIC IDAHO


Climate
Beringia
Out of the Ice Age
Idaho's Past Climate

Migration
The First People
A New Theory
Indian Tribes
Native Legends
Early Sites

Hunting
and Gathering

Major Changes
Tools I
• Tools II
• Ice Caves
 
Gathering Plants
Food / Medicine


EDUCATION

Teacher Pages

LEAVE NO TRACE
Resource Protection

LINKS
More Information




 



 
Last updated: 06-11-2013