There are many different vacations that a family or group of friends, or even a solitary traveler can take that will bear your next big story or group of adventures. Caving and exploring the great underworlds of the nation is a favorite pastime for Americans and has been for over a century. That is because some of the greatest stories of the nation are found in the earliest moments of the country’s history. If you are planning a caving adventure, put these hot spots of best caving on your list of must-see locales.
Old Man’s Cave
You won’t see any presence of deck builders out here at Old Man’s Cave in Ohio, a section of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail. This great location is conveniently located just off of State Route 664 in Ohio, in a land known as the great Hocking area. Landmarks that will help you find it include Upper Falls and the Grandma Gatewood Trail. When you get here, you find a six-mile run of caves and multiple park areas.
This best caving adventure is named after an old man named Richard Rowe who lived in an area of this cave back in 1796. Eventually, his family moved there with him, coming from the Cumberland Mountains in Tennessee. They built what every entrepreneur built back then, a trading post that would feed them and build their own American dream. Today, the cave is part of a nationally protected site including the North Country Scenic Trail and the infamous America’s Discovery Trail.
It was Richard Rowe who found Ohio’s Hocking area and lived the rest of his life there. He would end up being buried in the land that he nourished and loved. Near Old Man’s Cave is a cabin that was built by other residents of the land, Pat and Nathan Rayon who lived there in 1795. Although the cabin has long since been destroyed, it was relocated and later used as a tobacco warehouse to build more American dreams.
Remember your temporary sanitation accessories when you visit the Mammoth Caves on this list of best caving experiences. This is not just a caving system but is now a complete national park in the south of Kentucky. The park encompasses over 52 thousand acres of land and is home to parts of the Green River. It has also been home to over half a million visitors since its opening.
There is plenty to explore in Mammoth Caves, established in July 1941. The purpose of the cave as a national landmark today is to preserve and protect the many environmental and geologic features of an area that is home to thousands of species. It is governed by the National Park Service and is also a World Heritage Site. Mammoth Caves is mammoth, offering over 420 miles of fascinating underground discoveries to explore, making it the second-largest caving system in the world.
Seneca Caverns does not have the outdoor patio that some vacations will offer, but instead brings a historical perspective to any vacation. Easily considered for any best caving adventure list, this location was discovered in 1871 and is home to some of the most fascinating limestone and dolomite discoveries in the country. You will pay a fee to enter this location which is now a registered natural landmark and governed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
It was two boys in the early 1870s who discovered this caving system. They were Peter Rutan and Henry Homer who went out one day with their dogs to hunt rabbits. As the story goes, a dog chased a rabbit into an area that is now known as Seneca Caverns. This set of caves has multiple levels. Seven have been open to the public since 1933, and an additional 6 layers of caving have been flooded and are not accessible.
Follow the antique municipal signs in Eddy County New Mexico to reach this best caving experience called Carlsbad Caverns. This location encompasses 46 thousand acres of land and has been visited by over 400 thousand tourists as of 2019. This cavernous adventure is also governed by the National Park Service and is listed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
You’ll find this located in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico, and be delighted by its exciting and enticing cave experiences. The location begins with a show cave where you can hike or use elevators from the visitor’s center. Most of the park itself has been designated as wilderness owned and managed by the government in order to preserve existing species and wildlife. Here you will see an exciting limestone collection found in the Big Room which is over 4 thousand feet long, making it the largest limestone chamber in North America.
Cave adventurers will want to pack up their travel trailers and enjoy the Wind Caves experience on the best caving list. Here you will travel to South Dakota to enjoy over 33 acres of National Park Service designated land. This location is home to Wind Cave National Park and has been available to the public since January 1903 at the direction of President Theodore Roosevelt.
The name of this cave comes from the wind that is said to breathe in and out of the caves. This is caused by changes in the atmospheric pressure that come in and go out of the cave many times throughout the day. The cave only has a few openings in it to visit. This contributes to the windiness of the cave when those openings open and close during the course of any day.
Luray Caverns is not as fancy as some of the caves governed by the National Park Service, but it is still a fascinating location you can call the best caving experience. Pack for some hiking so that you can avoid an injury lawyer complaint after your visit to the Luray region in Virginia. This cave has been designated an official American cave since 1973 but was discovered in 1878.
You will love the true cave formations you will find here and can teach your family or traveling companions about stalactites and stalagmites in these caves. You’ll also enjoy seeing the majestic Great Stalacpipe organ that makes true sounds that mimic the sweet chimes of bells and xylophones. While smaller than others, Luray Caverns boasts a nod from the Smithsonian Institute which considers it one of the best stalactite and stalagmite collections in the country.
This caving system is proudly owned privately by a family who bought the land back in 1905. Bring pennies for the Wishing Well formation or tour the cave in a guided one-hour tour. You can also bring pets if you like here if you have a leash. Luray Caverns is also completely accessible to wheelchairs and other special needs.
Take special caution when you are visiting Craighead Caverns, or you will need a back pain exam after your tour. This is still considered among America’s best caving experiences and is found in Sweetwater, Tennessee. Although it sounds small on its face, Craighead Caverns is said to have the largest underground lake in the United States. This lake, known as the Lost Sea, is home to an area where you’ll find stalactites, stalagmites, and a gorgeous waterfall that will take your breath away.
You’ll find Craighead Caverns at the bottom of the Great Smoky Mountains. The caves were named after Native American Chief Craighead. This land was originally used by the Cherokee tribes that would meet for secret councils and ceremonious celebrations. When the American Civil War happened, the Confederates overtook the caves in order to scour for saltpeter to use as gunpowder.
It has also been said that this location is home to the ingredients necessary for a good Tennessee moonshine, or the traditional homemade alcohol beloved by southerners everywhere. The Lost Sea, saltpeter, and moonshine are not the only discoveries here. The American Museum of Natural History also located a fossilized jaguar in these very caves.
Your car tires or trailer hitches are not going to make it through the Kartchner Caverns, the best caving experience found in Arizona. The tires can make it to the park, but you’re on foot for the caving experience in the state park called Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona. Here you will find what you find in many cave locations. This starts with a show cave that is over two miles long, but a lot you can not see from the show cave alone.
This is one of the newer caves in America, having been discovered in 1974 and opened to the public in 1988. The entire park is over nine miles long and was discovered by authentic cave adventurers who had an idea and wouldn’t let it go. Located on the east of the Whetstone Mountains, these caves are made of limestone and have a wide range of natural cave formations such as speleothems that are suspected to have been there for 50 thousand years. The original cavers were geologists who ventured into a sinkhole to see a crack that was giving off moist air, a sign of cavernous geological space below.
You won’t find any old oak trees in the Howe Caverns in Schoharie County in New York, but you will enjoy an adventure here. This is considered one of America’s greatest treasures and is considered one of the most visited natural sites in the state of New York. The only site more visited than Howe Caverns is the infamous natural wonder of Niagara Falls.
Although an adventure to behold, this site is a designated tourist site and will come off as a natural visit space for tourists. You may not have the natural hiking adventures that you would in some other caves, but will still enjoy a formation that is over 150 feet below ground level. Limestone is in abundance here, as is the sweet underground lake known as the Lake of Venus.
The cave was discovered in 1842 by a man named Lester Howe who lived here with his cattle. One hot day in May, Lester noticed that his cows were migrating to an area at the bottom of the hill. The cool air he found when he followed them both surprised and delighted him. Today, the cave has a clocked temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit that is said to remain fairly constant.
The cave became open to the public in 1843 and soon became a prosperous site complete with a hotel and a limestone quarry. Eventually, Howe Caverns closed for a little while, until it was reformed in 1927 to create more entrances for the public. Today it is owned privately and includes a park attraction and offers public tours. The public tours today can include a boat tour where you will find signatures left in stone by previous visitors from a century gone by.
Natural Bridge Caverns
You won’t need a personal injury lawyer on hand after visiting Natural Bridge Caverns unless you aren’t paying attention to the rules. This location was founded in 1964 and is now a United States Natural Landmark near San Antonio, Texas. This is said to be Texas’s most commercial cave system, but remains a beautiful landmark for tourists from all over the world. Here you will find hundreds of feet of limestone including a 60-foot limestone bridge which you will cross to enter the cave.
The cave was first discovered by students in 1960 who sought funding from the landowners to turn it into something special. During its time, human teeth and arrowheads have been found by observant adventurists in the cave, indicating there is no telling how long the cave has been around. It is even thought that these caves were once the locations of homes of the people, centuries before their modern-day discovery. Many believe there is more to discover in the Natural Bridge Caverns of Texas.
When you are looking for your next caving adventure, bring this list across America with you. This list of best caves in the country has something for everyone. Whether you are traveling alone, or with a group of adventurous souls, come prepared. Pack for heavy hiking, bring your cameras and await the oohs and aahs of the best caving experiences available in this great nation.