Pack Up & Start The Car For Kentucky’s Ultimate Cave Road Trip!

If you love exploring caves, have we got a treat of a road trip planned for you!

Embark on an extraordinary road trip across Kentucky, exploring nine of the most stunning caves you can tour on this route.

From the world’s longest cave system to hidden river adventures, this journey offers a unique blend of history, geology, and thrilling activities. 

And the route takes you through some of the prettiest countryside in the Bluegrass State.

Let’s have a look at the route and caves, including everything you can expect to see and do at each stop!

1. Lost River Cave

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Our first stop is Lost River Cave in Bowling Green, where you can enjoy Kentucky’s only underground boat tour. 

Glide through a mesmerizing cathedral-like cavern and soak in tales of the cave’s rich history—from Native American use to Civil War hideouts. 

Above ground, the park offers ziplining and scenic hiking trails, ensuring there’s adventure both below and above the surface. 

Don’t forget to visit during butterfly season for an enchanting nature experience. See a full overview in this guide to Lost River Cave.

2. Diamond Caverns

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Next up is Diamond Caverns, a geological gem since 1859, located in Barren County. 

Marvel at the cathedral-like chambers adorned with stunning calcite formations that sparkle under modern lighting, creating a rainbow-like display. 

Be prepared for a bit of a workout, as exploring these mesmerizing formations involves navigating around 350 steps. 

A visit here isn’t just a tour—it’s a step back into a sparkling slice of Earth’s deep history.

3. Mammoth Cave

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Just a short drive up the road, Mammoth Cave National Park houses the world’s longest-known cave system with over 412 miles of explored caverns. 

From wheelchair-accessible tours to adventurous wild caving, there’s something for every level of explorer. 

Learn about the cave’s 12,000 years of human history and marvel at recently discovered Ice Age fossils. 

Don’t miss the lantern tours for a hauntingly beautiful view of the formations. See which tours you can’t miss in this guide to Mammoth Cave National Park.

4. Outlaw Cave

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Continuing our subterranean saga, Outlaw Cave offers a blend of natural beauty and historical intrigue. 

Known as a hideout for Jesse James, this cave features ethereal rock formations and a mysterious mist that enhances its otherworldly feel. 

Tours here respect the cave’s natural state, providing a truly authentic experience. Cap off your visit with a horseback ride through the surrounding park.

5. Crystal Onyx Cave

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At Crystal Onyx Cave, nature’s artistry is on full display. Newly renovated paths guide you past majestic stalactites and intriguing sinkholes. 

This cave, located near Cave City, is a showcase of underground beauty, with formations that narrate the slow passage of time. 

For a full experience, consider camping at nearby Jellystone Park, where more adventures await.

6. Hidden River Cave

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Beneath the town of Horse Cave lies Hidden River Cave, restored to glory thanks to significant conservation efforts. 

Tour the Sunset Dome, one of the largest freestanding cave domes, and cross the longest underground suspension bridge. 

The American Cave Museum on site offers free educational exhibits, making this stop both awe-inspiring and informative.

7. Great Onyx Cave

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Journey back in time with the Great Onyx Lantern Tour within Mammoth Cave National Park. 

Experience the cave as early explorers did, lit only by gas lanterns. 

Marvel at formations like the Spaghetti Factory and learn about the cave’s role in the historic Kentucky Cave Wars. 

This tour not only highlights natural beauty but also rich historical narratives.

8. Red River Gorge Underground Caverns

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For a change of pace, Red River Gorge offers unique underground kayaking and paddleboarding tours in a flooded limestone mine. 

This adventure combines sport with exploration, illuminated by vibrant LED lights. 

Paddle through historic passageways, observe local wildlife, and enjoy tales and jokes from your guide. 

It’s a water-based cave experience that’s both magical and mysterious. Find out everything you need to know in this guide to the Red River Gorge Underground Caverns Tour.

9. Carter Caves State Park

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Our final stop is Carter Caves State Resort Park, where you can explore over 20 different caves. 

Highlights include Cascade Cave with its underground waterfall and the thrilling wild cave tours of Bat Cave. 

Above ground, enjoy hiking, kayaking, and more. This park is a true adventurer’s paradise, offering a diverse range of activities both subterranean and terrestrial.

Final Note

Each of these caves presents a unique slice of Kentucky’s underground beauty, making this road trip a must-do for nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike. 

Whether you’re a seasoned spelunker or a curious newcomer, the caves of Kentucky offer a deep dive into the wonders beneath the Earth’s surface.