The Most Surreal Caves in North America from The Most Surreal Caves in North America
The Most Surreal Caves in North America
The Most Surreal Caves in North America
The world map can be deceiving because it creates an illusion that there is nothing left on Earth to discover. But there are places that have been seen by few people. One example is a sweltering cavern in Mexico filled with crystals as tall as apartment buildings and an underground lake that is somehow so clear that its water make you dizzy.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
The park has about 120 known caves — all formed as sulfuric acid dissolved the surrounding limestone. The Big Room will give visitors a peek into the main section of a cave, while guided tours of varying difficulties can be reserved in advance. Witness a bat flight, a hair-rising adventure in the caves. Hundreds of thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats fly out of the cave at sunset in the summer in their nightly search for food.
Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska
The striking ice caves inside the 12 miles long glacier are constantly on the move as Mendenhall inches towards Mendenhall Lake and changes shape along the way. The best way to access the shimmering blue walls underneath is from the West Glacier Trail with the help of a guide. You can easily found tours that accompany hikers to the crevasses and caves of Mendenhall Glacier. They even provide crampons and mountaineering gear.
Niagara Cave, Minnesota
Niagara Cave is one of the most unique geographical features in the state. As the name would suggest, the centerpiece of the cave is a 60-foot underground waterfall that cascades among dramatic stalactites and stalagmites, according to Uniquely Minnesota. In 2015 the cave became the first commercial one in the world whose energy consumption is fully offset by solar energy.
Cañon de la Angostura, Mexico
Flickr/Viaje a Bolivia/CC BY 4.0
The cave is absolutely magical. You can walk along suspended boardwalks that will take you deep into a canyon paradise of massive waterfalls and crystal-blue waters scattered with occasional ladders that lead straight to hidden caves. Avoid visiting during the wet season because the river and the rain make the paths and rocks very slippery.
Caverns of Sonora, Texas
The Caverns of Sonora is internationally recognized as one of the most beautiful show caves on the planet. Located 15 miles southwest of Sonora, it marks the halfway point between San Antonio and Big Bend National Park. The ranch inspired grounds offer a place to relax in nature, pan for gemstones, and hike. You can bring a tent or RV and rest atop the crystal kingdom.
Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky
The park in central Kentucky offers a jaw-dropping family experience. Home to the longest known cave system in the world, this World Heritage Site will have you going back every chance you get. You’ll have to crawl on your hands and knees to see certain places. Mammoth Cave consists of 390 miles of passageway. With three campgrounds, backcountry, and the Green River, the park offers a grand Great American adventure.
Luray Caverns, Virginia
This is where you get to hear the haunting sounds of the world’s only Stalacpipe Organ. The caves are located deep beneath Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. They are a U.S. Natural Landmark and the largest, as well as the most popular, caverns in Eastern America, according to Visit Shenandoah. You get to explore cathedral-sized rooms with ceilings 10 stories high, filled with towering stone columns and crystal-clear pools.
Sima de las Cotorras, Mexico
Natalia Tejeda/Wikimedia Commons
Sima de Las Cotorras is a stunning sinking hole that is about 460 feet deep and 525 feet wide. Get to the bottom to see an exuberant forest. Most trees measure up to 100 feet; some of them can’t be found anywhere else. As the name indicates, the noisiest inhabitants are several hundred restless and screaming parrots that make graceful flights to surface.
Ape Cave, Washington
This is the longest, continuous lava tube in the country. A lot of people go hiking there to see spectacular views of Mt. St. Helens. A very popular spot in the 2-mile passageway includes the geologic anomaly “Meatball.” It is cooled lava that fell from the lava tube ceiling while flowing through the cave. Enjoy a relaxed hike on your way back zigzagging through shady forest and crusty lava formations.
Lost Sea, Tennessee
The Lost Sea is listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as America’s largest underground lake which is part of a cave system called Craighead Caverns. The caverns have been known and used since the days of the Cherokee Indians, according to The Lost Sea Adventure. From the tiny natural opening on the side of the mountain, the cave expands into a series of huge rooms.
Athabasca Ice Cave, Alberta, Canada
The ice cave is Jasper National Park’s hidden gem. Step inside to witness the vivid blue walls and to admire epic views of the Canadian Rockies. The cave is right near the Columbia Icefields center; the trail head is just on the other side of the street, according to The Outbound. The cave is just a short hike off the side of the glacier.
Grutas de Cacahuamilpa, Mexico
The park is one of the largest cave systems in the world. It is a “live” cave system, because groundwater still filters down into it. Explore the tunnels and caverns that connect chambers and underground halls that were once used by the Chontal Maya tribes to honor the gods of the underworld, according to Visit Mexico. There are two underground rivers to explore.
Meramec Caverns, Missouri
This is the collective name for a 4.6-mile cavern system in the Ozarks and the largest commercial cave in the state. The complex of mineral formations and color is as rare and unique as they are beautiful, according to America’s Cave. These preserved jewels of nature took thousands of years to grow. Explore the cave on a guided tour by trained rangers to see the ancient limestone “Wine Table” and the 7-story mansion underground. On tour you will see both the rarest and largest cave formations in the world.
Cave of Crystals, Naica, Chihuahua, Mexico
Alexander Van Driessche/Wikimedia Commons
The cave is almost 1,000 feet below the earth’s surface. Discovered in 2000, much of the cave still hasn’t been explored due to the extreme conditions. With temperatures that can reach 136 degrees and 90 to 99 percent humidity, people can only endure 10 minutes in the caves at a time without protection. The Cave of the Crystals is home to some of the largest natural crystals ever found.
Jewel Cave, South Dakota
Dave Bunnell/Wikimedia Commons
Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world. To date, over 150 miles of passages have been explored and surveyed, and airflow studies indicate that most of the cave has yet to be found. Each year, explorers discover and map about three additional miles of the cave. Cave tours provide opportunities for viewing a wide variety of speleothems including stalactites, stalagmites and draperies.
Flickr/Brian Timmermeister/CC BY-SA 4.0
Ohio Caverns, known as America’s most colorful caves, is the largest cave in the state. Its exquisite crystal-white stalactite and stalagmite formations are a wonderful natural adventure and a popular tourist attraction. The variety of formations and unique coloring are even more stunning because they are still developing.