Adventures for All Ages at Marengo Cave/Blue River National Landmark
When people from outside the state think of Indiana, they often conjure up images of flat cornfields and the Indianapolis 500. However, if you visit the limestone hill country of southern Indiana, the reality is quite different.
This is cave country, home of some of the world's largest caverns including Marengo Cave National Landmark, Indiana's most popular show cave. The cave springs issuing from the caverns flow into the Blue River, Indiana's first scenic river. In the cave area all the water flows underground through nature's plumbing system. The recreation area surrounding Marengo Cave has grown into one of the Midwest's most complete outdoor centers.
It all started back in 1883 when the cave was first discovered by two school children. Several million visitors have made lasting family memories over the past 119 years. Today, nearly 75,000 visitors per year take one of their underground cave trips. Two different cave tours are offered: The short 40-minute Crystal Palace trip, and the one-mile Dripstone Trail trip. Many visitors choose to see both, as they are quite different, yet beautiful in their own way.
In addition to the show cave tours, more adventurous visitors may take cave-exploring trips into undeveloped sections of the cavern by making advanced reservations.
Over the years, many surface facilities and outdoor attractions have been developed. Kids can learn about rocks and minerals as they pan for gems at the Cave Springs Mining Flume. Youngsters of all ages can tackle “The Crawl”, an above ground cave simulator, or fly “The Bat”, our 300 ft. zipline. The park also offers picnic areas, a snack bar, several shelter houses and an interpretative nature trail over the cavern.
Nearby, Wyandotte Caves offer contrasting cave tours from March through October. One of the oldest commercial caves in the United States, Wyandotte has a fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The 30 minute Flowstone Falls tour is available daily from 9 am March through October while the 90 minute Monument Mountain Tour is available May through August.
Cave Country Canoes offers family canoeing and kayaking on the Blue River from livery offices located near both caves-in Milltown and near Leavenworth Indiana. Every season nearly 30,000 people take one of several canoe trips offered on the Blue. The Blue is one of the cleanest and prettiest rivers in the Midwest. It is so exceptional that The Nature Conservancy has made it a special project area. It is almost entirely spring fed and towering limestone bluffs are all along the river. One can still experience a feeling of what wilderness was like for the pioneers. The Blue River is a natural stream, which means there are enough riffles to add excitement to the trip, but most ages can enjoy a trip on some section of the river.
The recreation area plays host to many groups each year. Group facilities include bunkhouses, climbing and rappelling tower, teams course, and of course canoeing. Thousands of scouts, church groups, and other youth groups use the facilities year round for overnight packages and summer camps.
It's not what many people think of as “Indiana”, but it is being enjoyed by more and more people every year.
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