Marengo Cave – Indiana’s Most Visited Natural Attraction
Visiting Marengo Cave is a perfect way to spend a cold Indiana day. Not only is it Indiana’s most visited natural attraction, but it’s also a U.S. National Natural Landmark. Located in Crawford County in Southern Indiana, it’s a bit of a drive from Indianapolis, but definitely worth the time, even just for a day. As the latest installment of my Explore Indiana project, it was a fun and unique experience!
One of my favorite parts of visiting caves is that they are weather resistant. The cave stays at 52 degrees year-round. A hot summer day? Why not visit a cave? Too cold to be outside in the winter? A caving trip is a fun activity. The day I visited, it was pouring down rain. Although that did limit my photography options, it didn’t limit my fun in checking out the underground cave system.
We started the day with a dash to the gift shop and to get acclimated to the location. The gift shop is extensive with plenty of options guaranteed to get your kids asking for souvenirs. There is also a small concession area next to it with tables and machines for sodas and snacks. We packed a lunch so food wasn’t an issue. After this short detour, it was on to the main event.
There are two standard cave tours: Crystal Palace and the Dripstone Trail. You can do one or both. The Crystal Palace tour is about 40 minutes and the Dripstone Trail is an hour so it would be very possible to enjoy both in an afternoon.
Insider Tip: The combined cave tour ticket will save you money over purchasing them individually.
Luckily for me, I was a part of a school field trip with my son, so we did an interesting hybrid where we got to see the best of both trails.
It is incredibly easy to navigate the cave trails. The paths are clearly marked and very well-maintained. Our guide shared with us many interesting historical facts and information about the different formations we encountered. It was quite fascinating.
The caves were discovered in 1883 by two children who snuck out of their house in the middle of the night to check out a sinkhole they had heard some kids at school talking about. Imagine their surprise when they found an enormous cave instead! They kept their find a secret for a few days, but once they shared it, the landowner immediately opened it up for tours.
There are lots of other fun historical facts you’ll discover while on the tour, but suffice it to say that the caves have had their share of mystery, feuds, commercialization, and restoration. Since I love learning personal stories, I gobbled these up!
If the weather permits, in addition to the cave tours, Marengo Cave offers additional fun experiences. The kids on our tour had the opportunity to do some gem mining and since a portion of that area is covered, it is an activity that can be done even in the rain. Other fun options include pedal karts, an outdoor maze, and a small playground.
I don’t think there are a lot of options nearby for food, so you might want to do what we did and pack a lunch. I checked out Yelp and the pickings were pretty slim. If the weather is nice, the area outside the caves is beautiful and would make for a lovely picnic spot.
Have you ever visited a cave? I’ve only been to a few so far and every time I visit one I remember how interesting I find them and remind myself to plan more cave adventures! Luckily for me, there are several more in Indiana, so I’m sure I’ll get the opportunity to check them out as I finish exploring the state!
Marengo Cave, 400 East State Road 64, Marengo, IN 812-365-2705
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