Cave-a-palooza 2013

Cave-a-palooza 2013!

I have loved visiting caves for as long as I remember. In 2013, I finally got the chance to visit quite a few. I took sixteen tours in eleven caves (and visited another); some that I had visited before, and some that were new to me.

27-Dec-2012 Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, WI

OK, so I was so excited I started a few days early. I visited Cave of the Mounds in southwestern Wisconsin. This was likely the first cave I visited back when I was a kid.

This is a fun cave, one of very few in the Midwest, and one that has never been naturally open, to the outdoors so there is no natural wildlife.

Cave of the Mounds Cave of the Mounds Cave of the Mounds Cave of the Mounds
In April, I took a trip to Mammoth Cave - the first time I had been there in more than twenty years. I also visited a number of other caves on that trip. It turns out that April is a good time to go caving in Kentucky, since the caves were not very crowded.
24-Apr-2013 Louisville Mega Cavern, Louisville, KY

This is not a natural cave, but one carved out underneath sections of Louisville, as a limestone quarry. It's currently used for tours, zip lines, and offices and storage.

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25-Apr-2013 Lost River Cave, Bowling Green, KY

I traveled to the only underground boat tour in Kentucky. Unfortunately, the boat tours were closed due to too much water, but I spent some time aboveground.

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25-Apr-2013 Diamond Caverns, Park City, KY

Diamond Caverns are very close to Mammoth Cave. It's full of formations, and is probably the most beautiful one that I saw on this trip.

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25-Apr-2013 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

I took four tours in Mammoth Cave over two days - the first was the New Entrance Tour. (This is now called the Domes & Dripstones tour.) There were only three of us (which made it more enjoyable than if it had been full - over a hundred people), and we hopped on a bus to go to the New Entrance. We spent a couple hours going through some beautiful formations, including the only flowstone formations in the cave - including Frozen Niagara. If you have time for only one tour, I'd suggest this one, or perhaps the Historic Tour.

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26-Apr-2013 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

I stayed in the Mammoth Cave Inn for two nights, which was pleasant, and made relaxing in between the tours much more convenient.

The next morning, I went on the Snowball Tour. This had us on a bus to a manmade entrance, and culminated in lunch underground in the Snowball Room.

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26-Apr-2013 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

The third tour, that same afternoon, was the Historic Tour. This starts with a walk from the Vistor Center to the historic entrance (the one that was known to ancient Native Americans and rediscovered in the late 1700s). If you've been there, this is likely the one that you've been on. This provides a good overview of the history of the cave, including the mining of saltpeter.

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26-Apr-2013 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

My final tour was the Star Chamber Tour. We used lantern light through most of it. We entered the Historic Entrance and visited some areas that were not on the Historic Tour, including the Star Chamber itself. We also went up into Gothic Avenue and saw hundreds of graffitti that 1800s visitors left behind.

One of the more interesting facets of the tour was that many of the other tourists were a youth group from Canada, so talking about the temperature of the cave in Fahrenheit was confusing to them. The tour guide needed to do a quick conversion to Celsius.

27-Apr-2013 Marengo Cave, Marengo, IN

Marengo Cave is in the south of Indiana, and very beautiful. I first took the Dripstone Trail Tour.

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27-Apr-2013 Marengo Cave, Marengo, IN

I then took the Crystal Palace Tour, which was a much shorter walk, but with a lot more formations.

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27-Apr-2013 Bluespring Caverns, Bedford, IN

My final cave of the tour was a bit out of the way - Bluespring Caverns' tour is entirely by boat - it's an underground river. As there were no other people, I had a personal tour, and it was fascinating.

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In September, I headed to the Twin Cities, and visited another cave...
14-Sep-2013 Crystal Cave, Spring Valley, WI

Crystal Cave is one of the other very few caves in the Midwest. It was quite a lot of fun.

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In October/November, I travelled to the inaugural Honorcon in Greenville, SC, and visited more caves on the way there and back.
31-Oct-2013 Lost Sea Adventure!, Sweetwater, TN

Lost Sea's tour is partly by land and partly by sea. Since I was there on Halloween, my tour guide was dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow, and that made it even more fun.

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4-Nov-2013 Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, TN

This has an astounding waterfall underground!

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4-Nov-2013 Cumberland Caverns, McMinnville, TN

I had a private tour here, since fall/winter is a very slow season for them. But it was very cool. They have monthly Bluegrass Underground there, under the chandelier, and that would be worth a trip to see sometime.

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5-Nov-2013 Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

I was in the area again, so I had to visit Mammoth Cave again - this time, the Historic Tour.

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Mammoth Cave Historic Tour Mammoth Cave Historic Tour
5-Nov-2013 Hidden River Cave (and American Cave Museum), Horse Cave, KY

I visited my final cave of the year close to Mammoth Cave. This is another one with an underground river, but the unusual part is that it's under downtown Horse Cave. (This cave used to be called Horse Cave, and was once a source of water for the town.)

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