Luray Caverns is a popular attraction about 90 minutes from my house and I’m excited to take my kids there this summer. As usual, one trip idea led me to think about other areas around the country that offer similar experiences for kids to engage in some underground exploration. Here are seven caves worth checking out this summer with your family for a great geology lesson and more.
- Carlsbad Caverns (New Mexico): Take either a self-guided cave tour or a ranger-guided cave tour to explore this natural wonder. Guided tours last from 1.5 to 4 hours and you’ll need to make reservations at Recreation.gov ahead of time. If time is limited, take the Big Room Trail. Check out the Bat Flight Program that runs from Memorial Day through mid-October.
- Lost River Cave (Kentucky): Take a 20-minute guided walking tour and a 25-minute cave boat tour at Lost River Cave in Bowling Green. Outside the cave, you and your family can pan for gemstones or fossils, look out for 130 species of birds and visit the Butterfly Habitat (opens in late-May). Your kids can also participate in the Junior Tour Guide program to earn a Lost River Patch.
- Luray Caverns (Virginia): Located in the Shenandoah Valley, Luray Caverns is the most popular cave in Eastern America. One hour tours will lead you through cathedral-size rooms with ceilings as high as ten stories. Listen to the Great Stalacpipe Organ and get up close to various formations, including Titania’s Veil and Frozen Fountain. Also check out nearby Shenandoah Caverns.
- Meramec Caverns (Missouri): Just an hour from St. Louis, Meramec Caverns offers daily guided tours by rangers along well-lighted walkways that last one hour, twenty minutes. Outside Meramec Caverns, your kids can also enjoy the new Caveman Zipline (must be at least 10 years old).
- Natural Bridge Caverns (Texas): Take the most popular tour, the Discovery Tour, and go half-mile underground through layers of limestone to see stalagmites, stalactites and more. Located in San Antonio, Natural Bridge Caverns is one of the largest caverns in Texas. Kids can also pan for gems and minerals, then use the identification charts to accurately identify what they’ve found.
- Ruby Falls (Tennessee): At 1,120 feet below the ground, Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public. Located on Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, you and your family can take a guided tour into the cave to see the 145 foot underground waterfall. The tour lasts just over an hour and you’ll learn about different rock and geological formations along the way.
- Seneca Caverns (West Virginia): Take a tour of two separate caves, including Seneca Cavern and Stratosphere Cavern. The one-hour tour of Seneca Cavern features unique geological formations. The Stratosphere Cavern is open to guests 13 years and older and requires that adventurers be outfitted with headlamps and knee pads during this 2.5 hour guided tour.
Have you been to Luray Caverns or any of these caverns, or even other caverns elsewhere in the country or the world? I’d love to hear about your experiences with your kids.