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10 Caves in the US You Have to Check Off Your Visit List

 The US is known to be home to some breathtaking nature, from lakes to waterfalls to deserts. This time, we have compiled the most visit-worthy caves in the country. Whether you consider yourself a fearless traveler who loves a challenge, or a more relaxed type who is interested in the views and geology, these stunning natural spots have something for everyone. 
 

1. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The scenery of Antelope Canyon is so beautiful and unique it almost seems surreal. It is a slot canyon - a long, narrow, deep, and tortuous channel with sheer rock walls. This particular one was formed by the erosion of Navajo Sandstone, mostly due to flash flooding.

The best time to visit Antelope Canyon is in the summer months, when the natural light hits the walls in just the right angle and creates a warm red glow. Experiencing the slot canyon is only possible through a guided tour. There are various tour options, depending on how intensely you’d like to hike and your interests.

Related: 12 Fascinating Facts About the Grand Canyon

2. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

Nearly 250 million years ago, Carlsbad Caverns were part of the coastline of an inland sea. The caverns are the last remnants of this ancient coastline, with the eroded reef creating dazzling and unique structures. 

The caverns are the namesake of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the rest of which is beautiful as well. Visitors can hike in on their own and reach the caves through the natural entrance or take an elevator from the visitor center. 

3. Black Chasm Cavern, California

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Black Chasm Cavern, California

Located about an hour east of Sacramento, this magical cavern in Volcano, California is famous for its bright blue lake, surrounded by thousands of sparkling crystals called helictites, sprawling in every direction from the cave’s walls. When it was first discovered and explored in 1854, during the Gold Rush, the explorers didn’t know what the helictites were, except a beautiful sight. 

It is now known that these minerals are extremely rare and only exist in 5% of all caves in existence. You can explore Black Chasm Cavern with a guided tour of your liking. 

Related: 24 Beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites Found in America

4. Lava River Cave, Oregon

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US  Lava River Cave, Oregon

Located in Deschutes National Park, just outside of Bend, Oregon, this incredible cave features a series of arches which make for quite an impressive sight. The cave was first recorded in 1889 by Leander Dillman. Legend has it he wandered in following a wounded bear. 

Lava River Cave offers self-guided exploration of the mile-long lava tube. It takes approximately 1.5 hours to tour the entire cave. The site is open for visitors between May and September and remains closed during the other months of the year to protect the bat population.

5. Meramec Caverns, Missouri

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US  Meramec Caverns, Missouri
Image Source: Flickr

Meramec Caverns gained notoriety for being the hideout of outlaw Jesse James and his gang, but this natural wonder deserves a visit not just for its interesting history, but also for its stunning beauty. 

Meramec Caverns is a seven-story underground ‘mansion’. One of the most noted attractions is The Wine Room, on the fifth level, where you can find the Wine Table, the world's rarest cave formation. The onyx table is an aragonite formation; it stands six feet high and is supported on three natural legs.

6. Moaning Cavern, California

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Moaning Cavern, California

The Moaning Cavern Located outside of Vallecito (at the heart of California’s Gold Country) is named after the sound that the cavern makes, as you might have guessed. It is believed that is the moaning sound that lured the gold miners into its depth, in 1951. 

Nowadays, a spiral staircase provides easy access to the bottom, but adventurous visitors can also rappel the 165 feet (50 meters) from the top of the chamber to the bottom, and the extra brave explorers can check out the 2.5-hour tour that delves into the cave’s deepest burrows, roughly 280 feet (85 meters) below the floor of the main chamber (prepare for a belly crawl).

7. Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas

The Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas is a breathtaking example of a "living" cave system, where glistening formations like stalagmites, columns, and flowstones are still changing, and flowing along the walls. 

This amazing view of the natural world won’t require any extraordinary physical effort, as the cavern rooms have paved rails comfortable for walking and handrails for safety. 

Related: 50 Photos from 50 US States

8. Ape Cave, Washington

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Ape Cave, Washington
Unlike the previous cavern on the list, a visit to Ape Cave is more suited for the braver explorers. The spacious upper lava tube is quite spacious and followed by a smaller, longer, and more rugged lava tube which leads to the exit. Lastly, visitors enjoy an easy return hike winding through shady forest and crusty lava formations. Every part of the adventure features stunning views of Mount St. Helens.

9. Cosmic Cavern, Arkansas

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Cosmic Cavern, Arkansas

Cosmic Cavern, located in Berryville, Arkansas, offers a dreamy sight of pristine geologic formations. The most intriguing part of the view, however, is the two bottomless lakes-divers have repeatedly attempted to reach their lowest points but without success. 

One of the lakes was discovered as recently as 1993, in the “Silent Splendor” section which made national news. This newly discovered area is so untouched, that many of the formations are transparent. 

10. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

10 Most Beautiful Caves in the US Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky boasts a series of caves, that are the longest in the world - they span over 400 (643 km) miles long. Visitors can experience these impressive caves in several different ways: from easy walking tours to historic and geologic tours focusing on aspects of the cave system which make it so special. Do make a stop at the Frozen Niagara, one of the more breathtaking sights Mammoth Cave has to offer. 
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