Exploring the underground world has always attracted fearless adventurers. Hiking on the ground is one thing, but squeezing, climbing and crawling through mysterious caves provide an adrenaline rush, in contrast to the place where the sun shines.
Regardless of whether you are an amateur or a professional speleologist, in the U.S. there are a huge number of cave systems to study. Take extra warm clothes and flashlights to explore these cold, humid, and dark spaces: the best caves to visit in the United States.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
The Mammoth Cave is the Flint Ridge Cave System and is the largest known cave system in the world, twice as big as the one following it. So far, more than 645 km have been explored, but new caves are constantly being discovered. To enter the Mammoth Cave is like moving into an underground fantastic world, reminiscent of the film “Journey to the center of the Earth”.
Some of the most famous parts of the cave, such as Frozen Niagara, are illuminated. There is a short tour of “Niagara” or longer, such as the 6.5 kilometer Grand Adventure tour and the spectacular 8 kilometer Wild Cave tour. If you want to take the route by yourself, over 11 km of visitor paths are intertwined around the center. On them you will see spectacular views in deeper areas, boiling springs and spectacular rock formations.
Carlsbad Caves, New Mexico
The Carlsbad caves are known for their impressive stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a colony of 400,000 Mexican tailed bats. Instead of going down by elevator, tourists can go deep into the caves along a dimly lit path with steep passages. At the end of the trail you will find a limestone cave known as the “Big Room”, the largest underground chamber in the world.
Known for its impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
Strange and amazing rock formations are nothing but an amazing spectacle. If it is twilight outside, you can see bats leaving the caves to hunt insects. This is as unusual a spectacle as the caves below.
Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota
The National Park got its name “Wind Cave” due to the sound of the wind, which bursts into and comes out of the natural cave mouth. Sacred by Native Americans, the park has 235 km of explored passages, making it one of the longest and most challenging in the world. It is believed to have the largest number of passages per square kilometer compared to any cave.
One of the main features is an unusual mineral formation in the form of a box masonry of calcite, reminiscent of honeycomb. It is frozen and looks like paper snowflakes, but only made from mineral deposits. You can make different tours depending on the level of your abilities (physical and financial).
unusual mineral formation in the form of honeycomb
Monkey Cave, Washington
Hike on the longest continuous lava pipe in the U.S. – a journey not for the faint of heart. There are two caves in the Monkey Cave: the upper cave is the most complex and also the most interesting. Speleologists must wear gloves to protect themselves from uneven stones.
The cave is named after Snowman
The geology within the upper cave is changing everywhere. Climb the mountain piles and go down to a depth of 2.5 meters on the slings (available, you should not take your own) – part of the journey through the Monkey Cave. The cave is named after the observation of the Snowman (Bigfoot or Saskvach) in the area of nearby Mount St. Helens.
Lava River Cave, Arizona
Formed after the volcano eruption (when the outer stream cooled down and the rapid lava continued to move), the kilometre-long passage through the cave of the Lava River is an ideal adventure for beginners.
The height of the cave is 9 m in some places and 1 m in others makes it difficult to pass in some areas, but increases the excitement of adventure. The “lavascicles” hang from the ceiling, and rare rays of light penetrate through small holes. You can see the geological effect of lava passing through a tunnel in the smooth arch of the rock.
Balcony Cave, Pinnacles National Park, California
Cave balconies – a cave of avalanche. This means that it was created by the fall of boulders into the canyon, not by the lava flow. Over time, earthquakes and erosion created the cave roof. Several routes in the park, which range in length from 4 km to 14.5 km, will take you through the Cave of Balconies and lead you to the other side. Although it is not as grandiose as some of the other caves on this list, the Balcony Cave is funny because the entrance (or exit, depending on which side you go) requires you to climb the huge boulders in the dark. You really can’t do it without a flashlight or a headlight.
Climbing on huge boulders
If you prefer a cave that is easier to get into, the Bear Gorge Cave is also a cave of a landslide, but it has stairs and railing installed in the rocks, which makes it easier to pass. Inside it is difficult to pass, because you will climb boulders like balconies, which are wet in winter. But at the end of summer, the journey will be cool and long-awaited break from the heat. Both caves close between mid-May and mid-July to prepare for the nesting of the Townsend Ears (Smooth Bats).
Blanchard Springs Caves, Arkansas
Blanchard Springs caves have 2.5 km of surveyed passages. Although you can hike through most of the caves on this list on your own, you should take a tour of Blanchard Springs. During the tour of the wild cave you will crawl through narrow spaces and slide through the mud in some parts of the cave.
And although the Dripstone tour is simple, it is impressive. You will walk through two huge caves with an array of sparkling crystalline formations, columns, ceiling stones and a natural bridge, with the walls accentuated by illumination. The Discovery Tour is more difficult: you have to go down into the depths to follow the cave stream to the natural entrance that was discovered by the original explorers.
Cave Natural Bridge
Despite the fact that many caves in the southeast are closed to protect bat populations from white nose syndrome, Blanchard caves are always open to the public.