It is going to be stinkin’ hot in the Midwest over the next few days. What, oh what can you do but escape to where it is a cool 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. (And I’m not talking about my office.) There are caves in the Midwest! Flashlight tours of caves! Boat tours through caves! Cave tours that are capped by a light show and a rendition of “God Bless America!”
Here’s a roundup of some cool, dark places you can check out during the heat wave, or the next one. Because this is going to be a hot summer.
Indiana has three caves open to visitors: Marengo, Bluespring Caverns and Squire Boone Caverns. The Indiana Caves website has all your basic information if you’re interested in popping by any one of them. What appeals to me about Bluespring Caverns is you can tour the cave aboard a little boat. It’s about an hour long. Perfect time length for those of us with younger children. These limestone caverns are in Bedford, about 30 miles south of Bloomington. They’re open daily this time of year and admission is $8 for children and $14 for adults.
Marengo Cave, probably the best-known of the caves in the area, has walking and canoeing tours. Canoeing in 103 degree heat does not appeal to me. Walking for about 40 minutes to 1 hour and learning how stalactites and stalagmites formed over hundreds of years is much more do-able. You can find Marengo in far southern Indiana, about an hour west of Louisville, Ky. A National Natural Landmark, Marengo Cave also is open daily and walking tours cost the same as at Bluesprings.
If you haven’t heard of Meramec Caverns, you have not spent enough time driving the two-lane highways through the Midwest and mid-south. It seems every other red barn alongside Route 66 through Missouri has a painted sign advertising Meramec Caverns. The attraction — think of it as the Dollywood of caves– is about an hour southwest of St. Louis. This is where you’re treated to a light show and rendition of “God Bless America” when the tour concludes. Meramec Caverns, about 30 minute drive southwest of St. Louis, also is open daily. Prices are $9.75 for children and $19.50 for adults.
The entire grounds of Cave of the Mounds in southern Wisconsin is nice for exploring. In addition to the cave itself (also a National Natural Landmark) there’s a little fossil dig for children, rock shop and butterfly garden. Not to mention, about 30 to 40 minutes to the north is the lovely Wollersheim Winery so if the opportunity presents itself, why not drop by there as well? Cave of the Mounds is open daily now and costs $ 7.50 for children and $15 for adults.