Cave exploring, or spelunking, is a sport that is great for physical activity, relaxing, or a bit of exhilaration. Whether you are interested in the challenging hike or looking to take photographs of beautiful formations, check out these 8 greatest caves in the United States.
Texas- Caverns of Sonora
One of the most beautiful caverns in the United States is the Caverns of Sonora, which are 20,000 feet long and 150 feet deep, and home to stalactite and stalagmite formations. The glittering rose and pink-colored formations cover the cave walls, which are also home to helictite formations. One of these formations is known as the Butterfly. Unfortunately, a visitor broke and stole the right wing, ruining the cave’s most beautiful formation.
Minnesota- Niagara Cave
The Niagara Cave is named after the 60-foot waterfall found inside, but that is not its only attraction. It also has fossils that are hundreds of millions of years old, calcite flowstones, massive stalactites, and more. Some of its most notable attractions include the Battleship and Paul Bunyan’s Bed. This can also be a great destination for your wedding, as the Niagara Cave I home to a wedding chapel where over 400 weddings have been performed to this date.
South Dakota- Jewel Cave
Jewel Cave has more than 157 miles of passages, much of which is open for exploration. One of its marvels is a hydromagnesite balloon, which is a magnesium carbonate balloon made of the translucent mineral. It is also home to stalagmites, frostwork, flowstone, and stalactites.
Kentucky- Mammoth Cave
The world’s longest cave system is very accurately named Mammoth Cave. The cave is home to 285+ miles of labyrinths, huge chambers, steep hills, and hundreds of stairs. Some of the hikes even g through tunnels and muddy crawls. One notable section is Fat Man’s Misery- this section of the cave is only 18 inches wide!
Georgia- Ellison’s Cave
Ellison’s Cave is only for the most experienced cave explorers and spelunkers because of its incredibly deep cave drops. “Fantastic” drops to an impressive 586 feet and “Incredible” drops 440 feet. The deaths that have occurred as people explored Ellison’s cave make it a dangerous excursion, so be confident before you explore this cave.
Missouri- Meramec Caverns
The Meramec Caverns are 4.6 miles long. The cave system is known for its beauty, as well as being a hideout for Jesse James. The caves are also home to many billboards- which the owners added in an attempt to attract tourists.
Virginia- Luray Caverns
Millions of years ago, acidic water and rivers cut through the clay and limestone that now make up the Luray Caverns in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Its 10-story high ceilings and rooms that are as big as a cathedral are filled with towering stone columns. Two of the most notable features of the Luray Caverns are the Frozen Fountain, which is a shimmering calcite cascade, and the Stalacpipe Organ, which can create haunting music when played using rubber-tipped mallets.
New Mexico- Carlsbad Cavern
Carlsbad Cavern is located in the Chihuahuan Desert and is known for one of its caverns, the “Big Cave.” This cave is 14 acres in size and filled with calcium-carbonate formations. Some of the other notable places in the Carlsbad Cavern include the Painted Grotto, Giant Dome, Bottomless Pit, and Rock of Ages, all of which were made by sulfuric acid eating away at limestone. Public tours will only go so far into this cave, but it has chambers reaching 1,027 feet below the surface and goes on for over 30 miles.
Be sure you place all your valuables, such as sunglasses, phones and cameras in a secure bag, such as the ones found at adventurelion.com.
About the author:
Lautaro Martinez is a world traveler and freelance writer who enjoys cave expeditions and sharing his experiences with his readers. If you would like to learn more about Lautaro, you can check out his google+ profile.