The most spectacular caves and caverns across the US

Stef Zisovska
 

Active outdoor fanatics sometimes think there is nothing new to see or discover in America and they believe nothing can surprise them. If you are one of these people, don’t switch to an indoor hobby before trying caving. There are more than 45,000 caves and caverns in the US, without even counting Alaska with its countless miles of underground passages, lakes, crystal rooms, stalactites, stalagmites, bat colonies, bridges, and hidden paths.

There are so many spectacular caves to explore in the States that no matter where you live you can find one for sure. If exploring the parks and forests no longer does it for you, then here’s a new passion for you and your friends.

Luray Caverns, Virginia

Picture of the geologic formations inside Luray caverns – Author: Alejocrux

Shenandoah Valley in Virginia hides a cave system underground known as the Luray Caverns. There are enormous rooms in the caverns including the ten story high rock formations, pools, and weird calcite deposits. Things you can’t miss if you ever visit Luray Caverns are the Saracen’s Tent, which is a folded stone formation, and the Dream Lake that creates optical illusions. The Giant’s Hall and Tatiana’s Veil are other limestone and calcite formations worth visiting. Finally, if you like musical instruments, check the Stalacpipe Organ that produces sounds through the stalactite formations. Cool, right?

Jewel Cave, South Dakota

Jewel Cave – Author: Dave Bunnell – CC BY-SA 3.0

One of the most spectacular caves in America is found in South Dakota’s unspoiled landscapes. Jewel Cave is classified as a national monument, and it’s the third longest cave in the world with its 180 miles of rock formations and passages. The cave got its name from the calcite crystals that are not always as clear as the cluster above, but they still look magnificent. Jewel Cave is open for visits all year round with three different tours including a history tour, a candlelight tour through the earliest-discovered passages, and a wild caving tour, through an undeveloped part of the cave.

Meramec Caverns, Missouri

Greatest Show Under the Earth – Author: Damneinstien – CC BY-SA 3.0

Meramec Caverns were formed from limestone deposits over a million-year period. There is a legend that the Meramec Caverns were a hideout for Jessie James and his criminal gang. Nowadays, the caverns are a famous tourist attraction with colorful rock formations and a big lake. Don’t miss seeing the underwater structure called the Wine Table. You can also witness the LED light show over the rock formations that will lend a unique touch to your cave adventure.

Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky, USA – historic entrance – Author: Brian W. Schaller

Mammoth Cave is not a single cave, but 400 miles of cave system, which makes it the largest in the world. Located in the Green River Valley, the Mammoth Cave contains rooms, chambers, pools, labyrinths, and limestone formations that are beautiful to some people, and scary to others. There are more than ten different guided tours that you can choose from to explore the deepest secrets of the caves. Historic stone monuments along the Gothic Avenue will make you feel like you’re in a mysterious world only ever seen in movies.

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Picture of interior cave formations at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico – Author: Marshman – CC BY-SA 3.0

Carlsbad Caverns is a national park in southeastern New Mexico. The park is open every day of the year except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Carlsbad Caverns is formed by sulfuric acid erosion of limestone deposits underground and counts 119 caves. Visitors are invited to take a self-guided tour and explore the beauties of the caves on their own. Guided tours are provided as well for those who like company and want to learn more about the locality.

Caving is a perfect activity for extremely active adventurers with a big appetite for exploring. Pick the most intriguing cave and prepare yourself for a new experience. Good luck!

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