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Discover 15 Incredible Caves in Ohio

Located in the Midwestern region of the United States, Ohio is one of the best places that offer great outdoor adventures. From hidden waterfalls, incredible caves, robust state parks, historical destinations, extensive trails and waterways, and much more, you’ll find whatever you are looking for in the Buckeye State— all year round.

Consider taking a short trip to the caves closest to you the next time you are looking for something adventurous to do or a unique day trip in Ohio. The state has hundreds of caves spread across its 88 counties.

From the huge rock formations to underground caverns carved by glaciers thousands of years ago, this article explores the 15 most incredible caves you can visit in Ohio. Read on for more information!

 

Ash Cave

OH Ash CaveImage: Ted via Flickr

Ash Cave is, beyond doubt, the most fantastic feature in the southernmost part of Hocking Hills State Park. Measuring approximately 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall and 700 feet from end to end, Ash Cave is the largest, most recessed cave in the Buckeye State. It’s a one-way trail that takes about 40 minutes to hike.

Ash Cave’s entrance is filled with a spectacular gorge lined with awe-inspiring hemlocks, cliff walls, and various hardwoods. Midway, there is a seasonal waterfall and recess cave. The valley floor offers stunning displays of wildflowers throughout the one-way trail, including large-flowered trillium, trout lily, jewelweed, Jack-n-the Pulpit, and Dutchman’s breeches. The trail and restrooms leading to Ash Cave are wheelchair accessible.

Perry’s Cave

Registered as an Ohio Natural Landmark, Perry’s cave is a family-fun complex with a butterfly house, gem mining, rock wall, mini golf, and limestone cave. This spectacular feature is home to some great activities perfectly designed for adults and kids. It’s a flagship attraction steeped in historical tradition.

Perry’s diverse environmental landscape is something to marvel at, especially for such a small island. It’s full of awe-inspiring limestone and dolomite, believed to have formed roughly 400 million years ago. Ready to have fun in a place full of ancient history? Explore the mini golf course along with Perry’s Cave, which wasn’t discovered until 1813.

Old Man’s Cave

OH Old Man's CaveImage: Mike via Flickr

The Old Man’s Cave is among the most popular sites in the Hocking Hills State Park. The name “Old Man’s Cave” is derived from a 19th-century hermit who once lived in the cave. It’s believed the man is buried near the rock formation.

Although the entire Old Man’s Cave is small, the area is beautifully carved by the melting glaciers and rushing Salt Greek. While here, you can hike to the two waterfalls that plunge into deep gorges, swirling pools, and huge rock formations.

Take the trail, which begins at the Grandma Gatewood Trailhead and guides you to the five sections of the cave: Upper Gorge, Upper Falls, Lower Falls, Middle Falls, and Lower Gorge.

Ohio Caverns

OH Ohio CavernsImage: Brian Timmermeister via Flickr

Situated 30 miles from Dayton, near West Liberty, Ohio Caverns is home to spectacular stalagmites, stalactites, and many other fascinating formations. Among the main attractions in the Ohio Caverns is the 200,000-year-old Crystal King, which is estimated to weigh more than 400 pounds and measures about 5 feet long, making it one of the largest free-hanging stalactites in Ohio.

Other formations to explore at Ohio Caverns include the Crystal Sea, the “Palace of the Gods,” and the “Good Luck Crystal.” The Palace of the Gods is the most toured room in the Ohio Caverns because of its breathtaking colors and formations. Race your friends to the end of this stunning maze, or compete against yourself through an inch-deep artificial water-retention pool.

  • Address: 2210 OH-245 E, West Liberty, OH 43357, United States
  • Website: Ohio Caverns
  • Phone number: +1 937-465-4017
  • Entrance fee: Requires an admission fee of $14.50 for a pass to all three museums. A self-guided tour is $9.95 for ages 13+ and $6.95 for children aged 3-12.
  • Google Maps link: Ohio Caverns

Chapel Cave

Chapel Cave is a remarkable hidden cave you won’t find on any park or nature preserve maps. This little-known, hidden cave is accessible via a 1.75-mile out-and-back trail through the woods. It’s important to note that the Chapel Cave trail tends to be muddy, especially after rain, so wear appropriate shoes.

Finding the not-so-well-marked trail that leads you to the cave may not be easy. However, about a mile into the hike, you’ll see a rock outcropping up on a hill; that’s where Chapel Cave is located.

  • Address: 24798 Big Pine Rd, Logan, OH 43138, United States
  • Website: Chapel Cave
  • Entrance fee: Free
  • Google Maps link: Chapel Cave

Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns is another cave designated as a Registered Natural Landmark by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It’s one of America’s most incredible geological wonders and one of Ohio’s largest underground caverns. It’s a unique and educational adventure you will live to remember.

While there, walk and climb natural stone steps through the “The Earth Crack” and get a spectacular view of the Ole Mist’ry River, one of the crystal-clear vast-ground water systems in the area. The facility also offers a clean-shaded picnic where you can relax with your family or friends.

  • Address: 15248 E Township Rd 178, Bellevue, OH 44811, United States
  • Website: Seneca Caverns
  • Phone number: +1 419-483-6711
  • Entrance fee: : $20 for adults 12+ and $10 for children aged between 4 and 11.
  • Google Maps link: Seneca Caverns

Indian Trail Caverns & Sheridan Cave

*Update: Permanently closed.

The Sheridan Cave is associated with the Indian Trail Caverns that opened in 1927. Both caves are Paleo-Indian archaeological sites located in Wyandot County, Ohio. They are exceptional sites in a natural limestone-dolomite ridge, consisting of underground rooms with a few winding passages determined to have been used by the Wyandotte Indians. Ensure you explore the caverns to find out what the region was like in the past. There are stairways at the cavern suitable for all ages.

You may be familiar with the Indian Trail Caverns, especially if you have watched some of the movies and documentaries like “Ancient Asteroids,” “The Universe,” and “What Killed the Mega Beast,” since they were filmed at the Indian Caverns. Even more interesting is that thousands of specimens and artifacts, including those of rare extinct animals like elk-moose and short-faced bears, have been found in the cave.

Whispering Cave

Whispering Cave is a recess cave located in Hocking Hills State Park. It’s home to one of the most spectacular swinging bridges and a 100-foot waterfall pouring from its upper rim. There is a brand new trail called the Hemlock Bridge Trail that leads to the Whispering Cave. The trail begins at the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge parking lot and through some of the most impressive sandstone cliffs.

Rock House

OH Rock houseImage: See1,Do1,Teach1 via Flickr

The Rock House is the only true cave in the Hocking Hills State Park. It earned its reputation as Robbers Roost since it was used many years ago as a hideout for bootleggers, murderers, and bandits. Situated up a 150-foot cliff of Blackhand sandstone, Rock House is a tunnel-like corridor with seven Gothic-arched windows bearing the cave’s massive roof.

Rock House has long been a popular tourist attraction great for outdoor group activities. Join one of the naturalists at the upper parking lot for a one-mile hike that will lead you to some of the spectacular features of the Rock House.

Crystal Cave

OH Crystal CaveImage: James St. John via Flickr

Crystal Cave is home to the largest geode in the world. It’s situated about a mile from downtown Put-in-Bay, on South Bass Island, Lake Erie. As the name suggests, the cave’s walls are covered by celestine crystals that can grow from 8 to 18 inches in length.

Located at the Heineman Winery, this incredible treasure was discovered in 1897 by miners digging a well for the Winery. The cave was originally used to harvest crystals sold for fireworks manufacturing, which lead to further expansion of the cave.

Saltpetre Cave

Saltpetre Cave is located within the most breathtaking landscape, wildlife, and geological wonders of the Hocking Hills State Park. It’s one of the perfect places to visit, especially if you enjoy hiking by cliffs, outcroppings, and caves. The cave is open to the public by permit only.

To visit Saltpetre Cave, you must submit a permit application to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) at least two weeks before a planned visit. ODNR will then provide you with the information regarding the cave’s location once your permit has been processed.

Zane Shawnee Caverns

Nestled in the beautiful Jefferson Township, Ohio, the Zane Shawnee Caverns is a cave system named after a neighboring village of Zanesfield. The cave has rare formations like odd-growth natural structures and cave pearl nests on ledges. Throughout most of the 20th century, the Zane Shawnee Caverns were managed privately as a show cave.

Olentangy Indian Caverns

The Olentangy Indian Caverns are a cave system formed millions of years ago by an underground river that cut through limestone rock. The Wyandotte Indians used the caverns as a refuge from the harsh weather conditions and their enemies, the Delaware Indians.

Some things you can explore at the Olentangy Indian Caverns include a minigolf course, a petting zoo, a mock gem mine, and a treasure maze. There is also a museum within the area, which houses the artifacts found in or within the Indian Caverns.

  • Address: 1779 Home Rd, Delaware, OH 43015, United States
  • Website: Olentangy Caverns
  • Phone number: +1 740-548-7917
  • Entrance fee: Children (ages 3-12) $22.99 and adults (ages 13+) is $25.99– for all-access pass.
  • Google Maps link: Olentangy Caverns

Mary Campbell’s Cave

Also known as the Old Maid’s Kitchen, Mary Campbell Cave is a rock shelter that comprises a half-dome of sandstone and shale, about 300 million years old. The cave is named after Mary Campbell, who was abducted in 1759 at the age of twelve years old from her Pennsylvanian home by Delaware Indians. She was returned home later, in 1764. Historians believe that white children were sometimes kidnapped to restore the shrinking ranks of Native Americans.

Deer Lick Cave

The Deer Lick Cave is typically a rock overhang formed many years ago through the erosion of Berea sandstone by water. The cave’s unusual name is derived from a deer. It’s believed a white-tailed deer frequently licked the cave’s sandstone to supplement themselves with salt, which is essential for their survival.

Explore the two trailheads within deer lick— the Deer Lick Cave Trailhead and the Nature Center Trailhead for a unique experience. The trails take you past scenic stream valleys, stunning meadows, and eventually the famous Deer Lick Cave, located further up the trail.

Final Thoughts

The sole free attraction in Ohio features some of the largest and oldest caves located in various regions within the state. Many of these caves were formed naturally from running water and wind erosion thousands of years ago.

Regardless of outside weather, most caves in Ohio remain at a constant temperature. However, not all the caves open throughout the year. Summer and fall are the best seasons to visit when most caves are open. Therefore, you should always check the accessibility and operating hours before you tour the caves.

All images on this page: Creative Commons.

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