National Caves & Karst Day

Join Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in celebrating the 3rd annual National Caves & Karst Day on Saturday, June 8.

National Caves & Karst Day is officially June 6, but we want everyone to have a chance to celebrate with us on Saturday! Join us for a day of cave knowledge and fun. Get here early to receive your FREE National Caves Association poster. Explore a cave display in the shade building next to the Soaring Eagle Zip ride, test your caving skills at the squeeze box and learn about caving and participate with the Junior Cave Scientists booklet and receive a Glenwood Caverns cave sticker! Our very own cave guide, Kay will be there signing her coloring book “Cave Critters”. The first 20 who complete the cave science booklet will get a signed “Cave Critter” book FREE! After your caving activities join us in the plaza for cake at 3 p.m.

We hope to see you Saturday, June 8, for this special National Caves & Karst Day event!

Showcaves of the Midwest

From the Black Hills to the Ozarks and the Wisconsin Dells to the Texas Hill Country, Cavern.com identifies 32 showcaves. They include the longest underground navigable river, the ultra-rare black alabaster, species of sightless cave-dwelling creatures and breathtaking formations of size and beauty. Here are some highlights:
  • Rushmore Cave near Keystone, S.D., is in a limestone formation encircling the granite core of the Black Hills. Its four rooms are the Post Office, where early visitors carved their initials; the Image Room, with face-shaped formations; the Floral Room, with helictites on stalactites in leaf and floral design; and the Big Room, with numerous stalactites, flowstone, and cave bacon.
  • Cave of the Mounds near Blue Mounds, Wis., discovered in 1939, is considered the most significant cave in the upper Midwest by the Chicago Academy of Sciences. It has a high number of colorful crystal formations on paved lighted pathways.
  • Bluespring Caverns in Lawrence County, Ind., contains 21 miles of surveyed passages and the longest U.S. subterranean river with 3 navigable miles. It is home to crayfish, salamanders, crickets, spiders, beetles, bats and the rare sightless Northern Cavefish.
  • Sights on the Kings Row Cave TourMarengo Cave in Crawford County, Ind., discovered in 1883 and open to the public from the beginning, has almost five miles of known passageway.
  • Spook Cave near McGregor, Iowa, opened in 1955, is explored entirely by boat on the underground water.
  • Crystal Lake Cave near Dubuque, Iowa, was discovered in 1868 and contains crystals including aragonite, travertine, satin stalagmite, stalactite and calcareous spar.
  • Alabaster Caverns near Freedom, Okla., has the largest natural gypsum cave in the world, including, pink, white and rare black alabaster, otherwise found only in China and Italy.
  • Mark Twain Cave near Hannibal, Mo., was discovered by hunters about 1820 and contains tools of earlier Native Americans who used the cave. Mark Twain visited the cave and based a scene in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer on his experience.
  • Meramec Caverns near Stanton, Mo., is the largest commercial cave in the state that has more than 6,000 surveyed caves. The system is 4.6 miles long.
  • Bluff Dwellers Cave near Noel, Mo., was used by the ancient peoples known as Bluff Dwellers. It was open to the public in 1927.
  • Talking Rocks Cavern in Stone County, Missouri, was named Fairy Cave by its early developer for its glittering crystals. (Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs also has a cave with the same name and offers tours of the Historic Fairy Caves)
  • War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake near Rogers, Ark., contains unusual domes, rimstone dams, and underground streams and waterfalls. It was used by moonshiners before the lake was built in the 1960s.
  • Exploring caves in a fun family activityMystic Cavern and Crystal Dome Cavern are less than 400 feet apart near Harrison, Ark. Mystic has a Pipe Organ calcite formation 30 feet tall and 12 feet thick as well as helictites, shields and spherical stalactites. Crystal has a 70-foot dome and other dripstone formations of pure while calcite.
  • Cave Without A Name near Boerne, Tex., has six rooms with formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave drapery, flowstones and rimstone dams. Concerts are held in the Cave Throne Room.
  • Caverns of Sorona near Sorona, Tex., is in a limestone formation at the frontier of the Hill Country and the Chihuahuan Dessert. It was discovered in the early 1920s and opened to the public in 1960.
  • Inner Space Cavern near Georgetown, Tex., was discovered in 1963 and opened to the public in 1966. Mammoth and saber-tooth cat bones have been discovered in the ancient cave.
  • Natural Bridge Cavern near San Antonio, Tex., has a 60-foot limestone bridge. It was discovered in 1960 and opened in 1964.
  • Longhorn Cavern in Burnet County, Tex., was used by Native Americans, Confederate soldiers, outlaws, and, during Prohibition, as a speakeasy with musical performances. It was explored, cleaned and improved by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. Musicians started performing in the cavern again in 2006.
Learn more about our nation’s show caves and plan to explore some of them soon, including Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado which, in addition to its spectacular show caves, is home to America’s only mountaintop theme park.

Top 10 Showcaves in the US

King's Row is a spectacular sight
King's Row is a spectacular sight

If you go deep enough, each cave has its own special attraction. Beautiful rock and crystal formations. Water features. Music. Cavern-dwelling creatures. History. Here’s a subjectively-selected Top 10 list drawn mostly from a review of highlighted caves on Cavern.com

  • Luray Caverns in Virginia. Hear the largest musical instrument in the world, the Great Stalacpipe Organ, that taps stalactites with rubber mallets across a 3.5-acre expanse and fills the whole place with sound. As if that weren’t enough, the Geology Hall of Fame is here.
  • The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tenn. This place is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest underground lake in the United States. It is 4.5 acres at the surface, but more than 13 acres have been mapped and the work is incomplete.
  • Bluespring Caverns in Lawrence County, Ind. Speaking of water, the longest underground navigable river in the United States makes this a superlative destination. In addition to the three miles of flowing water, this place has a fascinating selection of creatures including salamanders, crickets, spiders, beetles, bats and the rare sightless Northern Cavefish.
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Monument in Eddy County, N.M., explored in 1898 and declared a national monument in 1923, includes Carlsbad Cavern and Lechuguilla Cave. Carlsbad Cavern has 23 named rooms – the biggest covers 357,469 square feet. Lechuguilla Cave, one of the most popular in the world for spelunking, is 1,640 feet underground, extends for 120 miles and has spectacular features such as 20-foot gypsum crystals and 50-foot calcite columns.
  • Alabaster Caverns near Freedom, Okla. When there are only three places to see black alabaster, and only one in the United States, it’s worth a trip to the largest natural gypsum cave in the world, with pink, white and rare black alabaster as well as crystal formations of selenite, another kind of gypsum.
  • Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. Named for its own size rather than the wooly prehistoric beast, the world’s longest cave system—more than 400 miles—is worth a visit. Right next door, you can see Diamond Cavern’s drapery deposits of naturally colorful calcite.
  • Cave Without A Name near Boerne, Tex. You can see formations of stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave drapery, flowstones and rimstone dams in six rooms and hear concerts in the Cave Throne Room.
  • Meramec Caverns near Stanton, Mo. This 4.6-mile system has irresistible history. Natives used the caves for shelter, a French miner visited them in 1722, and Confederates destroyed a Union saltpeter plant in the caves during the Civil War. Meramec was one of the first attractions advertised by bumper sign when it opened to the public in 1935.
  • Grand Caverns in Grottoes, Va. Speaking of history, the oldest continually operated show cave in the United States was discovered by a trapper in 1804 and opened to visitors in 1806. More than 200 Confederate and Union soldiers from nearby battles signed their names in the caverns.
  • Longhorn Cavern in Burnet County, Tex. This one’s got music and history. It was used by Natives, Confederate soldiers, outlaws, and, during Prohibition, as a speakeasy with musical performances. Really—a tavern in a cavern. It’s been hosting musical performance since 2006.

Of course, Glenwood Caverns in Glenwood Springs is a Colorado stunner. Exquisite underground landscapes include rooms that are among the state’s largest— “the Barn,” and the most highly decorated—King’s Row. Glenwood Caverns offers two cave tours—the Historic Fairy Caves and King’s Row—both are included in the Park’s Funday passes. Learn more and plan a visit to Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.