Take a quaint stroll under earth’s crust
West Virginia is not just wild and wonderful above ground! Go below.
We have some of the most intricate and beautiful caves in the U.S. While many caves require extensive climbing, navigation and ropework experience, there are quite a few in West Virginia that are easily accessible,so you can simply walk through their glory without equipment any more specialized than a jacket and good pair of no-slip sneakers.
Here are the best commercially accessible caves in the Mountain State:
1. Seneca Caverns, Riverton
This underground institution has been taking people into the depths since 1928. It was first discovered by Europeans in 1742, and Native Americans have used it since at least the 1400s. Today you can take a standard 1-hour tour that descends about 165 feet into the earth, all via railed and stepped walkways.
As an added bonus, Seneca also offers gemstone mining, so you can slice through bags of dirt and gravel to find glittering gems to take home!
2. Organ Cave, Greenbrier County
This complex of limestone passages is huge– more than 45 miles of mapped passages, with an additional 200 “leads” of passages that haven’t been mapped or surveyed yet. It’s the second most extensive commercially tourable cave in the East.
You probably won’t be venturing into the unknown on one of their guided tours, but you will get a full dose of paleontology, Civil War history (Confederate soldiers hid here for 3 winters), beautiful formations and maybe even some wildlife sightings (There is a bat colony living there).
In addition to their standard 2-hour walking tour, you can crawl through 8 different expedition tours to different chambers, pools and waterfalls.*
3. Lost World Caverns, Lewisburg
Just outside the beautiful Eastern WV city of Lewisburg is an extensive series of caves that was not even discovered until 1942. White calcite formations– both stalactites and stalagmites– are the most beautiful features here. The Bridal Veil looks just like its namesake, and the War Club stalagmite even has some historical significance. In 1971 Bob Addis, in between work building walkways in the cave, decided to set a world record for “longest time sitting on a stalagmite,” so he spent nearly 16 days atop the rock pillar.
You probably won’t be able to break Addis’s record, but you can take Lost World Caverns’ standard 45-minute tour, or their more advanced, 4-hour Wild Cave Tour (You’ll get muddy for this one). Afterward, be sure to check out their museum, filled with relics that were found in the cave.
Where do you do your underground exploring?
*Organ Cave’s tours are based on Christian Creationist theology.
This post was last updated on July 23, 2020