Natural cave wonders exist all over the world. Each cavern has its own interesting feature such as how the lighting illuminates the stonework or how the stalactites and stalagmites appear. Some of the caves are made up of mostly ice while others were formed from eroded limestone. The best cave experiences for adventure travellers include New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns; Crystal and Fantasy Cave in Bermuda; China’s Red Flute cave; Eisriesenwelt Ice cave in Austria; Italy’s Blue Grotto cavern and Luray Caverns in Virginia.
Carlsbad Caverns, located in Carlsbad, New Mexico, is home to more than 117 underground caves. The caves were created when sulphuric acid eroded the limestone. Carlsbad Cavern national park is listed on two National Register of Historic Places: the Rattlesnake Springs Historic District and the Cavern Historic District. The roof of the main cave reaches 256 feet tall. One of Carlsebad’s unique features includes the Lechuguilla cave because it has the furthest limestone cave depth (1,567 feet) in the United States.
Established in 1884, Bermuda’s Crystal and Fantasy cave feature large stalactites that drop down from the ceiling. From the lake below, visitors can witness the stalagmites that rise up from the clear water. The lake’s transparency is one of the main reasons people visit the cave each year. The bottom of Cahow Lake is 55 feet (17 meters) deep.
China’s Red Flute cave, also identified as “the palace of natural arts”, is situated to the northwest of Guilin City in China. One unique fact about this particular cave: workers use the verdant reeds, located outside, to make flutes. Carbonate deposits formed the rock and stone structures located inside Red Flute cave. The cavern itself reaches a length of 240 meters.
Eisriesenwelt Ice Caves is located in Austria, near Werfen market town, within the state of Salzburg. Eisriesenwelt has the one of the expansive ice cave systems throughout the world. The cave, remaining closed during the winter, opens to visitors on May 1st of each year. Temperatures inside the cave tend to remain below freezing, even in the summer. Visitors climb steps in order to see the ice structures. A fantastic view of Salzach valley can be seen from the entrance of Eisriesenwelt on clear days.
The largest single cave passage in the world has just been discovered in a remote Vietnam jungle. The Son Doong caves measure 262 by 262 feet (80 by 80 meters) and adventurers have explored some 3 miles of cave before reaching floodwaters. A local farmer uncovered the cave which has stalagmites over 230 feet (70 meters) tall.
The Blue Grotto cave, off the coast of Italy, is the national emblem of Capri Island. Light from the sun travels through an underground chamber, casting a mirrored image throughout the cavern. Visitors go through the mouth of the cave by rowboat. At certain times of the year, traffic jams happen outside the entrance because the rowboats can only travel through the mouth one at a time.
Luray Caverns, discovered in 1878, is located a short distance west of Luray, Virginia in the Shenandoah Valley in the USA. A stalacpipe organ manually plays in the background while visitors tour the cave. Three acres of stalactites are used to amplify the sound of the organ. Outside the caverns, visitors can explore and try to find their way through the largest garden maze on the United States east coast.
By Julie Bowman