Indiana is best known for generating the highest number of professional basketball players, including Larry Bird and Louie Dampier. Aside from its love for basketball, this midwestern U.S. state is largely agrarian, with forests scattered as distinct woodlots. It’s also home to different aquatic ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes, and streams, which often experience changes in terms of ice cover, water quantity, oxygen content, and water clarity.
We’ll focus more on the caving systems in Indiana. The state has numerous caves and caverns— all ripe for exploration. Harrison offers some of the best views in the state if you are specifically looking for southern Indiana caves.
Interested? Then find out more by reading the entire article.
Marengo receives more than 70,000 visitors annually, making it one of the most visited places in Indiana. It’s a privately owned cave that offers incredible spelunking opportunities and several other outdoor activities. The National Park Service designated the cave as a National Natural Landmark in 1984. Initially, the cave had passages measuring approximately 3900 ft, but the passages got extended to 15,480 ft over time.
Take a 40-minute Crystal Palace tour through formation-filled rooms featuring massive flowstone deposits. There is also a Wild Cave tour for experienced spelunkers. It’s a two-hour exploration trip leading to the more underdeveloped cave sections. You will have to squeeze through very narrow spaces and crawl through tons of mud.
- Address: 400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN 47140, United States
- Website: Marengo Cave
- Phone number: +1 812-365-2705
- Entrance fee: Offers two kinds of tours:
- Dripstone Trail – $21.95 per adult 13+ and $12.95 for children ages 4-12.
- Crystal Palace–$18.95 per adult 13+ and $10.95 for children between ages 4-12.
- Google Maps link: Marengo Cave U.S. National Landmark
Looking for a face-to-face experience with beautiful creatures like salamanders and cave-dwelling critters? Indiana Caverns is home to many small animal species that will give you a fascinating experience. As part of the Binkley cave system, Indiana Caverns is one of the most extended cave systems near Corydon, Indiana.
The cavern offers unique walking and boating tours irrespective of weather conditions. Most visitors prefer touring the caverns during the rain because it makes the site appear more beautiful.
Ensure you tour the Big Bone Mountain Room, one of the biggest rooms in Indiana Caverns. This big room derives its name from the thousands of bones dating to the Ice Age era that have been found here and rests on the cave floor.
- Address: 1267 Green Acres Dr SW, Corydon, IN 47112, United States
- Website: Indiana Caverns
- Phone number: +1 812-734-1200
- Entrance fee: The rates are as follows:
- Cave tour–$23 for adults and $13 for children
- Bat chaser– $14 or two tickets for $20
- Escape Room–$16 for adults and $8 for children
- The Plunge– $15 or two tickets for $20
- Sabertooth– $6
- Google Maps link: Indiana Caverns
Squire Boone Caverns
Squire Boone Caverns is a perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day. Aside from cave exploration, there are many side attractions for adults and kids. It’s a great place to organize family get-togethers, wedding anniversary celebrations, family picnics, and more. The caverns feature underground waterfalls, streams, and the largest rimstone dams in history. You will also see incredible formations like stalactites and stalagmites.
Other special activities you get to enjoy at Squire Boone Caverns include zip lining and photography. It also hosts a few events like the Wild West Shows and National Cave and Karst Day.
- Address: 100 Squire Boone Rd SW, Mauckport, IN 47142, United States
- Website: Squire Boone Caverns
- Phone number: +1 812-732-4381
- Entrance fee: Prices range as follows for cave tours only:
- $24 for adults ages 12-59
- $22 for seniors 60+
- $14 for children between ages 4-12
- Free for children below 4
- Google Maps link: Squire Boone Caverns
Wyandotte Cave is located within O’Bannon Woods State Park. It’s a great attraction site made of two distinctively separate caves. The Little Wyandotte Cave is the newer and smaller one, while the Big Wyandotte Cave is the older cave with more than 9 miles of mapped routes. The Little Wyandotte is much easier to traverse and offers comprehensive views of dripstone and flowstone formations.
Exploring the deeper sections of the Big Wyandotte Cave takes two hours, a huge underground “Monument Mountain.” This cave section offers spectacular views of rare formations, such as epsomites, gypsum, helictites, and prehistoric flint quarries.
- Address: 7315 S Wyandotte Cave Rd, Leavenworth, IN 47137, United States
- Website: O’Bannon Woods State Park
- Phone number: +1 812-738-8232
- Entrance fee: Cave tour charges are:
- Little Wyandotte Cave – $8 for adults, $4 for children between ages 6-11, and free for children under 5.
- Big Wyandotte Cave –$18 for adults and $9 for children between ages 6-11.
- Google Maps link: Wyandotte Caves
Located around 80 miles from Indianapolis, Bluespring Caverns is a karst and river-type formation. The cave is best known for having the longest subterranean river. Take a 1-hour long tour boat to explore the underground, where you will catch sight of bats hanging from the cave’s ceiling and the red-orange salamanders.
The cave is dark, making it difficult for one to take photographs. Tour guides use strong flashlights to show visitors the unique features of the caverns. There is nothing strange about this tour, though children tend to get nervous because of the darkness, which is why it’s not recommended to bring a kid under 4.
- Address: 1459 Blue Springs Cavern Rd, Bedford, IN 47421, United States
- Website: Bluespring Caverns
- Phone number: +1 812-279-9471
- Entrance fee: : $22 for adults and $12 for children. Not recommended for children under 4.
- Google Maps link: Bluespring Caverns
Sullivan Cave is owned by Indiana Karst Conservancy (IKC). They aim to protect the Karst landscape of Indiana. The pathways are not illuminated, making it unsafe for one to walk through. The IKC states that the cafe has been classified as a natural and wild cave, meaning no improvements will be entertained. It’s important to note that you can only explore Sullivan with the help of an experienced caver, not unless you are an advanced caver.
Some of the notable features in Sullivan Cave include The Colossus and Mountain Room, which boasts large stalagmite and several other formations hanging from the ceilings and sides of the rooms. The Sullivan Cave is home to a wide array of biological life, including amphipods, beetles, salamanders, isopods, cave crayfish, and a small bat population of Pipistrelles.
- Address: 926 Queensbury Drive Noblesville, IN 46062
- Website: Sullivan Cave | Indiana Karst Conservancy
- Phone number: +1 317-258-9983
- Entrance fee: : No fees are required, but only the responsible and experienced cavers can access the cave.
Buckner Cave is a typical example of a Karst Cave located in Monroe County, Indiana. There is a serious ongoing effort to restore the cave to its original condition after being vandalized for many years. Garbage-like food wrappers and broken bottles were common all over the Buckner Cave. The Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy has been managing the cave since 2005 though he recently donated it to the National Speleological Society.
Visitors don’t require any special equipment or ropes to traverse the cave. However, many areas have low ceilings, so one will be required to crawl on hand and belly. While exploring the cave, you may encounter several bat species, like the Pipistrelle, the Indiana Bat, and the Big Brown.
- Website: Buckner Cave
- Contact: [email protected]
- Entrance fee for both caverns: : Free, but one needs to take a permit one week in advance from the Richard Blenz Nature Conservancy since the cave is privately owned.
Shawnee Cave (Donaldson Cave)
Shawnee Cave, also known as Donaldson-Bronson Cave or Donaldson Cave, is one of the main caves of Spring Mill State Park. It’s the last of the three underground passages that originates southeast of the park and flows through the cave system via Twin Caves and Bronson Caves.
Visitors can only explore the cave accompanied by a guide. To visit the cave, you must register earlier and receive authorization from the Indian Department of Natural Resources. A larger section of the cave is covered by water, so in some sections, you might be required to swim when the water gets too deep.
- Address: Spring Mill State Park, 3333 IN-60, Mitchell, IN 47446, United States
- Website: Donaldson/Bronson Cave
- Phone number: +1 812-824-4380
- Entrance fee: No separate fees are required to enter Shawnee Cave. You only need to pay an entrance fee of $7 at the main gate (Spring Mill State Park).
- Google Maps link: Donaldson Cave
Wolf Cave Nature Preserve
Wolf Cave is the top draw at the McCormick Creek State Park in Spencer, Indiana. It’s one of the perfect places to visit, especially if you want to avoid crowds. The cave was formed by underground water movement that dissolved the limestone bedrock and carved out a beautiful network of passageways. Over time, erosion exposed the cave, and now it’s completely dry.
Wolf Cave is home to numerous birds, including thrushes, wood warblers, tanagers, and cerulean warblers. There are not many geological formations to see, but you will still love the experience of exploring the cave, while spotting hints of the underground streams that formed the passageways.
- Address: Trail 5, Spencer, IN 47460, United States
- Website: Wolf Cave Nature Preserve
- Phone number: +1 812-829-2235
- Entrance fee: The rates are as follows:
- $7 – In-state entrance fee
- $9 – Out of state entrance fee
- $2 – Daily fee
- $25 – Golden Hoosier Passport
- Google Maps link: Wolf Cave Nature Preserve
Twin Caves is located in Spring Mill State Park. It’s a historical spot that offers boat tours into the southern cave entrance called the Upper Twin Cave. Twin Caves’ unique biology and geological formations can be better understood while on a boat tour. The cave displays a special feature known as a karst window, formed when karst groundwater is exposed to the surface.
- Address: 3333 IN-60, Mitchell, IN 47446, United States
- Website: Spring Mill State Park
- Phone number: +1 812-849-3534
- Entrance fee: $7 at the main gate (Spring Mill State Park). Twin Caves tour costs $3 per person. Children under 3 are not allowed on tour.
- Google Maps link: Twin Caves
If you are an experienced spelunker and enjoy exploring wild caves, you should consider visiting the Wolf Cave, Sullivan Cave, and Squire Boon Caverns for a real adventure. Those looking for a unique way to unwind in some of the most popular show caves in Indiana that offer guided tours, should try out the Indiana Caverns or Marengo Cave. Nevertheless, all the caves in Indiana offer a unique outdoor recreation experience.
Top image: daveynin via Flickr / Creative Commons.