Caves are a wonderful year-round attraction. They provide a welcome respite from summer’s heat and, likewise, a place to escape winter weather. We’ve had the opportunity to visit many caves around the country and last week I added to my collection of posts about caves over at Travel 50 States with Kids.
The Big One
Mammoth Cave National Park has over 400 miles of surveyed passageways, making it the longest known cave system in the world. It also has giant-sized cave rooms. It is located in Southwest Kentucky’s Cave Country.
The Windy Ones
South Dakota’s Wind Cave National Park is known for its abundance of boxwork, a lattice-like formation. It also has a rolling prairie above where we spotted prairie dogs and a herd of bison.
Not far from Colorado Springs is Cave of the Winds. It also has beautiful scenery both above and below ground. You’ll see many beautiful formations inside the cave. And with its ropes course and rides, it would also fit well into the next category.
The Adventurous Ones
At Hidden River Cave in Kentucky, adventure-seekers can try ziplining and rappelling in addition to spelunking.
Ziplining enthusiasts simply must visit Louisville MEGA Cavern which is the world’s only underground zip line course.
Adventurers who don’t like being constrained by a tour guide must visit Lava Beds National Monument in California where you can explore cave-like lava tubes at their own pace.
Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves in New Hampshire aren’t true caves, but pockets of space between giant granite boulders that once tumbled down the walls of the gorge. Adventurous kids and adults will have a blast climbing over and under these boulders.
The Sparkly Ones
Jewel Cave National Monument was once thought to be a small, pretty cave. It’s still pretty, but now that more of its passages have been explored, it’s now the third longest known cave system in the world. It is located in South Dakota, not far from Wind Cave National Park.
Kentucky’s Diamond Caverns is one of the prettiest caves we’ve seen. It has many different types of formations including Cave Bacon.
I’ve also written about Ohio Caverns in my book, Adventures Around Cincinnati. It is known as one of America’s most colorful caves.
What other caves in the United States should we add to our must-see list?
Terri Weeks is a travel writer from Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her husband are on a mission to take their children to all 50 states before they graduate from high school. She blogs about it at www.travel50stateswithkids.com. She is also one of the authors of Adventures Around Cincinnati: A Parent’s Guide to Unique and Memorable Places to Explore with your Kids. She is a member of the Midwest Travel Writers Association.