Danger Cave

Useful Information

Location: Danger Cave State Historical Monument, near Wendover, Utah.
Open: Gated, open on special occasions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1930s first visited by archaeologists including Robert Heizer.
1943 dance floor created in Juke Box Cave by soldiers from Wendover Air Base, renamed Danger Cave.
1949-1953 excavated by the Utah Field Schools under the direction of Jesse Jennings.
1960s Danger Cave State Park created.
1998 caves closed with bars.


Danger Cave and nearby Juke Box Cave are two of about 25 caves, formed by the former Lake Bonneville. This lake was formed by the melting water of the Ice Age glaciers and has now vanished, leaving a huge salt flat between Salt Lake City and Wendover. The last remains of this lake is the famous Salt Lake near Salt Lake City. The caves were formed by the action of the water so we would call them lake caves or erosional caves, formed by the erosional forces of the waves at the foot of cliffs. In literature they are termed "solution caves", probably an error by archaeologigists, who are actually not speleologists.

Several of the caves around Lake Bonneville were used by man around 11,000 BP. At this time at the end of the last Ice Age the lake reached its maximum, contained sweet water, and was probably a great place to live with warm climate and abundant prey and fish. Their remains in the caves were protected against weather, and todays extremely dry weather conditions preserve even extraordinary artifacts such as cordage from plant fibers, leather, basketry and wooden artifacts in outstanding good condition. Such materials are very fragile and would have been destroyed by most other circumstances.

The caves were first visited by archaeologists including Robert Heizer in the 1930s. At this time Danger Cave was known as Hands and Knees Cave, because that was how it had to be entered. When a large rock fell off the cliff face and narrowly missed an archaeological crew, the cave was renamed Danger Cave. Later, around 1943, during World War II, soldiers working on the Manhattan Project were stationed at Wendover Air Base. They discovered a huge cavern named Indian Cave or Picture Cave because of the rock art found inside. In 1943 they created a dance floor inside the cave by leveling a back portion of the cave. The cave was also renamed into Juke Box Cave.

Scientific excavations were mainly done between 1949 and 1953 by the Utah Field Schools under the direction of Jesse Jennings. He was one of the first to use C-14 dating and published the extraordinary results. The cave became one of the best-known archaeological sites in the U.S.A. During the 1960s the area was transformed into Danger Cave State Park, but to protect the archaeollogic sites it was necessary to close the cave entrances with steel bars in 1998. The excavation work is still ongoing, but at a very low level.

Archaeologists give tours to the public on special occasions and the cave is open after appointment for education, for classes and for digs. One way to see the cave as an individual is the yearly Utah Archaeology Week in May.