How to Dig an Awesome Snow Cave/Tunnel

We made an impromptu visit to a museum last weekend…and ended up sick, of course. Sandra has been on the couch for 3 days straight and hardly looking like she is perking up at all. But Rene never gets hit hard – if it’s survival of the fittest, he’s the last one standing! My goal for the week had been to have zero device time because it feels like that is all they ask for – beg for. However, when the sickies hit, I do tend to let the TV play from dawn til dusk, and so, the kids can consider this their binging period because once we are healthy again, it’s going to be device-free for a while.

Rodent trails under the snow

Since Rene is not really sick with much more than the sniffles, sitting and watching TV all day does not use up his incredible reserves of energy. I have found that he’s much more rough than he generally is, more physical, and overall not a very good listener. Thus, for a while, though I am not feeling very well myself, I took him outside today. At least nine inches of snow dumped on us Thursday night, resulting in a snow day Friday and a fair covering of snow left though it has warmed up to about 40 degrees today. Donned in snow pants and boots, Rene wanted to make a snow tunnel. No problem, seeming as I took a class at my university’s campus in the Adirondack Mountains once about winter mammalian ecology which discussed how small mammals will tunnel under the snow. To get the full lesson, we did our own survival training and dug an awesome snow cave too. So today, I put my old college lessons to use and dug out a tunnel for the kid.

How to Dig a Snow Cave/Tunnel

1, For gear, get a regular snow shovel and a metal garden shovel. You may also want a hand shovel for finishing touches.

2. You can either pile up a a huge bunch of snow or dig into snow that has been pushed by a plow. At home, I always choose the second option because it’s less work and the snow is good and packed already.

3. Start digging your tunnel inward at ground level, big enough for a person to get through. As my tunnel today was for a child, I made it child-sized. People that really get into making their snow caves will make a doorway that curves so that warm air is kept inside. You might need to use a smaller shovel to dig out the inside of the cave in that case.

4. The further in you dig, the harder it is to loosen the snow with the snow shovel, so switch to the garden shovel to knock it off the walls and ceiling, and then scoop the snow out with the snow shovel.

Snow cave

5. Dig as far as you wish. Rene wanted a tunnel, so I eventually went to the back side of the snow pile and began to dig from over there.

6. Once the form of your cave is dug, use your hand shovel to shape it to your liking, raising the ceiling to your preferred height.

7. After your cave is formed, gently pat and/or rub your hands along the walls and ceiling to compact the snow so that it won’t knock off easily when you rub against it.

8. Viola! Your cave is built!


Final product: Kid-sized snow tunnel

Some people make snow caves big enough to camp in. Check out these instructions from Outdoors with Dave.

Share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below!


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