The Traveling Teacher


Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist



Courtesy photo You WILL get muddy during the exploration adventures at Indiana’s Marengo Cave.


If you’re still in the market for a summertime adventure, beat the heat at southern Indiana’s Marengo Cave, a U.S. National Landmark. Registering a cool 52 degrees year-round, this cave system covers approximately 122 forested acres. With a total length of 5 miles, the cave features dry upper level passages and two parallel underground rivers. The upper level show cave is Indiana’s most visited show cave, and the lower level is the largest of Indiana’s 3,000 known caves.

Adventurous visitors will want to hit at least one of the five cave exploring tours. Warning – you will get wet! Wear old clothes because explorers walk, crawl, crouch, and squirm through the mud. But it’s all worth it to see the waterfall at the end of the “Waterfall Crawl.” This two-hour tour leaves the spelunkers covered from head to toe in mud, as recently experienced by my daughter Anna. Once reaching the waterfall, the tour can be extended even further with the “Beyond the Falls Adventure.” This takes spelunkers to the most remote section of the cave. The “Underground Adventure” gives explorers the chance to wade in an underground river and crawl through narrow passages. All of these tours are offered year-round. Helmets and headlamps are provided.

The two “iCave” experiences are summer-only Saturday tours. Like the year-round tours, visitors walk, crawl, and crouch through the lower passages to the Old Town Spring Cave and the New Discovery Cave. Lucky visitors may see some cave dwelling animals, such as salamanders, crayfish, sculpin, or (gulp) the bat.

Folks who prefer a gentler cave experience can take walking tours, either the Crystal Palace or the Dripstone Trail. Both of these tours are ideal for families with small children, senior citizens, or folks who just don’t want to get wet. The Crystal Palace tour is a 40-minute walk past stalactites and stalagmites, huge flowstone deposits, and formation filled rooms. Visitors learn about the history of the cave and how it felt to explore the cave by candlelight, as the first visitors did.

The Dripstone Trail covers one mile of cave. This 60-minute tour allows visitors to see totem pole stalagmites, delicate soda straw formations, and the unique penny ceiling. Visitors experience total darkness when the lights are turned off. Unique parts of the cave, such as the Looking Glass Lake, Sherwood Forest, and Cave Hill Cemetery, delight visitors of all ages. Note that the walking tours are not wheelchair or stroller accessible.

In addition to the cave, try canoeing on the Blue River, Indiana’s first state scenic river. Trips for all experience levels are available from April through October.

Camping and cabins are available on-site for folks who want to spend several days. Air conditioned cabins feature electricity, bunk beds, fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. Restrooms and showers are a short walk. Electric and primitive campsites also have fire pits, grills, and picnic tables. Free wi-fi is available at the gift shop, and a playground is nearby for the little ones. All camping and cabins are open year-round.

A great vacation doesn’t always have to be far away. A world of adventure awaits the entire family at Indiana’s Marengo Cave. Plan your trip today by visiting their website at http://www.marengocave.com.

http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2015/07/web1_McElwee-Holly4.jpg

Courtesy photo You WILL get muddy during the exploration adventures at Indiana’s Marengo Cave.
http://www.dailycall.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/30/2015/07/web1_marengo_cave.jpgCourtesy photo You WILL get muddy during the exploration adventures at Indiana’s Marengo Cave.

Holly McElwee

Contributing Columnist

Contact Holly McElwee at hollymcelwee@gmail.com.

Contact Holly McElwee at hollymcelwee@gmail.com.