The United States has so much to offer when it comes to the wonders of nature. One of those things is the national and state parks in which, due to certain changes, caves have been formed.
These ten caves stated below are open to the public, and visitors can visit them all throughout the year. No matter when or which caves you decide to visit, you are going to see amazing landscapes and learn so many things about how nature can and created fascinating caves full of stalactites, stalagmites, and other minerals.
They are proof that nature is wonderful anywhere, in many shapes and colors.
1. Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave is situated in Kentucky, and it is the longest cave system in the world. It is measured at 400 miles, and there are even parts of the cave that still aren’t explored. The Native Americans discovered this cave, but it was rediscovered during the time of George Washington when it was used as a saltpeter mine. Mammoth Cave was established as a park in 1941, and above its ground, there are hardwood forests and rivers. You can take many activities, such as cave tours, camping, canoeing, biking, and others as well. The national park is open every day throughout the year, except for Christmas Day.
2. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
This national park is located in New Mexico, and its the main attraction is the Carlsbad Cavern. There are two self-guided walking tours in which you can explore this cave, and they are known as Big Room or Natural Entrance. With the first option, you descend about 750 feet in over a minute with an elevator, while the second option includes a walk across the cactus dessert, and it leads you to a big opening in the plateau. No matter which option you choose, you are going to have a great time seeing how amazing this cave is. The Carlsbad Caverns were established as National Park in 1978.
3. Florida Cavern State Park
The Florida Caverns are located in Marianna, Florida, and it is the only public tour cave. The caves have been forming for thousands of years. While exploring these colorful caves, the archaeologists found human footprints and artifacts by ancient Indian hunters. The state park is perfect for hiking trails, and the near Chipola River is considered as one of the best canoe streams in the South of the USA. If you want to visit these caves, know that the cave tours are not available on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
4. Wind Cave National Park
You can visit the caves throughout the years, and you will be amazed not only by the Wind Cave in this national park but also by the wildlife. The park was established in 1903, and the cave was discovered two decades before that, in 1881 by the Bingham brothers, who heard a loud noise that came straight from the natural entrance of the cave. Inside you’ll find mineral formations, stalactites, and stalagmites. The national park is located north of the town of Hot Springs in South Dakota.
5. Lewis and Clark Caverns
Located in Montana, these naturally air-conditioned caves contain amazing stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites, and if you want to see them, know that cave tours are available starting from the 1st of May and last until September 30. There are many activities that you can enjoy in this state park. Besides exploring the caves with a guide, you can also try hiking, biking, camping, wildlife viewing, and so on. But, you should respect the given rules when it comes to these activities.
6. Jewel Cave National Monument
The Jewel Cave is called a “jewel” because of the two calcite crystals that can be found inside. Located in South Dakota, this cave’s most popular tour is the Scenic Tour that lasts for one hour and twenty minutes and is moderately strenuous. The tour includes walking up and down on 723 stair steps, and you also enter and leave the cave in an elevator, starting from the Visitor Center. It’s a good idea to talk to a park ranger if you are a person who is afraid of heights, elevators, have respiratory or heart conditions, or any other condition you think it’s good to consider before taking the tour.
7. Meramec Caverns
The Meramec Caverns are situated in Missouri, and they are old for 400 million years and have been formed of deposits of limestone. Today it is considered as one of the most popular attractions located near the famous road route 66. The Meramec Caves are also the most visited caves in Missouri, which is also known as the cave state. The Stage Curtain is probably the most famous attraction in the cave because it is the largest single cave formation in the world.
8. Longhorn Cavern
The Longhorn Cavern is a river – formed cavern situated in Burnet County, Texas. It is a river-formed cavern because it started forming when the water’s ground levels dropped, and the water from the river dissolved the limestone. One of the must-see views is the Crystal City, a part of the cave that is covered with calcite crystals. Another amazing place is the Queen’s Watch Dog, a rock for which it is believed that was formed by people many centuries ago. An interesting thing about this cavern is that you can have a private party held above or below ground.
9. Apostle Ice Caves
These ice caves are located in Wisconsin and are looking different depending on which season it is. In summer, the red sandstone is placed between forest and lake, and it is best to be seen by a boat. In winter, the lake’s surface is frozen, the shore cliffs form a red border, and huge icicles are formed inside the caves. So, if you want to visit them during winter, you should drive to the end of Meyers Road, and if the lake’s surface is well frozen, you can walk or snowshoe. In winter, you should also be aware of risky situations that might occur, such as frozen rocks falling down or cracks in the ice.
10. Lava Beds Caves
The Lava Beds Caves are part of the Lava Beds National Monument located in northeastern California. The Lava tube caves are actually formed from lava that flowed and later cooled through the monument about 10.000 – 60.000 years ago on Medicine Lake. An interesting fact about this place is that during the Modoc War in the 19th century, the Modoc used the lava flows to their advantage, and because of these historic reasons, the Lava Beds were proclaimed as National Monument in 1925.