BY NICK ROGERS
Satisfy your sense of adventure by exploring southern Indiana’s cave systems! Formed several million years ago as water dissolved limestone, these systems feature underground streams, bountiful biodiversity and awe-inspiring formations. They’re a preservation of Indiana history, a presentation of nature’s splendor and a perfect road trip!
Below are details for four sites on the Indiana Cave Trail (indianacavetrail.com), as well as Wyandotte Caves. Remember to always bring layered clothing and sturdy shoes!
You can ride down one of America’s longest known subterranean rivers here in Indiana, and perhaps spot some sightless Northern Cavefish. These caverns include 21 miles of surveyed passages, and the grounds feature a half-mile nature trail and 15 acre-wide sinkhole.
Indiana’s longest cave system offers regular tours or the Deep Darkness tour, a four-hour kayak excursion on a stream 200 feet underground! Want an all-new above-ground thrill? The Bat Chaser, which combines a zipline, roller coaster and hang-gliding. Launching from a 50-foot tower overlooking the caverns, it twists and turns across 603 feet at over 20 miles per hour.
With the largest room of any Indiana cave, this system has been open since a pair of schoolchildren discovered it in 1883. The Marengo Cave is filled with wonderful mineral formations untouched by man since the cave’s discovery. Visitors can choose the Dripstone Trail (1 mile) or the Crystal Palace (⅓ mile) — each covering unique sections of the system.
Squire Boone Caverns
Visitors to these caverns (named for Daniel Boone’s brother) can cover the system in about an hour. Be sure to take in the underground waterfalls, the 40-foot tall Rock of Ages, and massive stalactites (rock descending from the ceiling) or stalagmites (rock ascending from the floor). The grounds also include a grist mill, candy shop, country store and zipline adventure.
One of America’s oldest cave systems, this attraction recently reopened after a seven-year shutdown. The site offers visitors the choice of Little (short, flat and easy) or Big (steep and stair-filled). Big is home to Monument Mountain, purportedly the world’s largest underground mountain, and you may glimpse salamanders, crayfish or crickets in either segment.
Freelance writer NICK ROGERS is a communications manager for Purdue Agricultural Communications.