If you are looking for a new family adventure this summer, why not head underground? The Midwest is home to a number of intricate cave networks, several right here in Indiana, where kids and adults can get up close and personal with the wonders of the underground world – from rock formations to waterfalls, blind cave fish to Ice Age bones. The best part? These caves stay a cool 54 degrees year-round on average, making them the perfect place to cool off when the temperatures soar. Below are just a few of our favorites.
Location: 1459 Bluespring Caverns Rd, Bedford, IN
Explore the heart of the natural world by boat! An hour-long boat ride through Bluespring Caverns puts you face to face with the majesty of this natural wonder. Keep an eye out for blind cave fish and enjoy the sounds of the rushing river. Above ground, be sure to walk the ½ mile nature trail through the Bolton Natural Area for your chance to view one of Indiana’s largest sinkholes. For more information, visit www.bluespringcaverns.com.
Location: 100 Squire Boone Rd, Mauckport, IN
As the story goes, Squire Boone and his brother Daniel discovered these caverns in 1790. Today, families can walk in Boone’s footsteps, passing stalactites and stalagmites, rushing streams and underground waterfalls. And this year, for the first time since opening to the public in 1973, Squire Boone had unveiled a new tour through this wondrous cave. Guided 1-hour tours leave every 30 to 40 minutes. Find out more at www.squireboonecaverns.com.
Location: 400 East State Road 64 Marengo, IN
This U.S. National Landmark is definitely one to add to the bucket list. Marengo Cave offers easy walking tours that will amaze adults and children alike. The Dripstone Trail tour is 1 mile and lasts 60 minutes. The Crystal Palace tour is 1/3 mile and lasts 40 minutes. Both are guided and are offered year-round. Kids will get a kick out of The Crawl – a winding maze that allows little ones to get a feel for what cave exploration is like without all the water and mud. Visit www.marengocave.com for more info.
Location: 1267 Green Acres Drive SW, Corydon, IN
Explore Indiana’s longest cave. Families will enjoy the Panoramic Views Tour. During this 1 ½ hour tour, you’ll descend 110 feet underground, enjoy a 25-minute boat ride on the underground river and learn about the rich history of Indiana Caverns, all while taking in breathtaking underground views. Above ground, kids can take part in Gem Stone Mining and explore “The Cavern of The Sabertooth,” a crawling adventure where kids set out in search of the Sabertooth Lair. For more information, visit www.indianacaverns.com.
Location: 1 Mammoth Cave Parkway, Mammoth Cave, KY
Mammoth Cave is one of the largest in the world and is certainly worth the hike to Kentucky. This massive cave sprawls over 400 miles, with 16 different tours for all ages. If you are looking to make this more than a day trip, there are opportunities to enjoy surface hikes, canoeing on the Green River, picnicking, horseback riding, bicycling, camping and more. Advance reservations for cave tours are highly recommended. For more, visit www.nps.gov/maca/planyourvisit/gocavetours.htm.
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Looking for a challenge this summer? Tackle the Indiana Cave Trail and make a goal to hit all four caves along the route: Bluespring Caverns, Marengo Cave, Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone Caverns. It would be impossible to tour all four caves in one day, but there is no rush! You have until December 31, 2018 to check them all off your list in order to earn your very own cave trail t-shirt! Simply pick up a passport at the first cave you visit and have it stamped at each subsequent cave. This is a great way to plan out several weekend adventures over the course of the summer. To start planning your route, visit www.indianacavetrail.com.