Did you know the state song of Ohio is “Beautiful Ohio”? After visiting the Ohio Caverns last week, I certainly understand why!
It’s amazing to know that underneath fields of farmland in eastern Ohio lies an enchanted natural world that began forming millions of years ago. And watching your child discover and understand the historical and scientific significance of the caves is truly the best part of exploring the Ohio Caverns.
The Ohio Caverns is a great day adventure and easily located on State Route 245 in West Liberty — about an hour’s drive northwest from Dayton. During the summer season, two tours are offered: The Historic Tour and The Natural Wonders Tour (combined 2-hour tour for a discounted price). Also, for guests with limited mobility, Ohio Caverns offers the Limestone Tour in the summer season with advanced reservations. A Winter Tour is also provided with an overview of both the history and geology of the cavern. (Note: The Historic, Natural Wonders and Winter tours have very steep steps into and out of the caves!)
I highly recommend the cavern tours for grade-school children and older because of the Caverns #1 Rule: Do not touch any surface within the caverns, including the ceiling and walls. I brought my daughter and friend (soon-to-be 3rd graders); and it was really hard for us to remember not to touch the carved names, fossils and crystals in the caves — so much beauty and history! Touching cave surfaces wipes away moisture and destroys future growth of the crystals (one cubic inch of calcite takes five hundred to one thousand years to grow).
Before beginning any tour, make sure to bring a jacket/sweatshirt and wear socks and shoes. The caves are damp and muddy, and a cool 54 degrees year-round. We began by taking the History Tour; and the girls loved boarding a shuttle bus to take us to the site of caves’ discovery in 1897. While walking 3/4 of a mile, a wonderful tour guide provided information about the formation, history of the cavern and its “historic graffiti” left behind by the early explorers in the 20th century.
Known as “America’s Most Colorful Caverns”, the girls were really excited about the next tour, The Natural Wonders. We followed a winding picturesque walking path; and entered the cavern through an updated and easily accessible sinkhole entrance. On this mile-long walking tour, we were provided with a geology lesson while viewing the wide variety of beautiful white crystals and colorful rust formations. These are picture perfect moments — do not forget your camera!
Before or after the cave tours, we explored the gorgeous grounds of the Ohio Caverns. With plenty of activities, the girls did spend some time on the playground and even panned for gems in the gem-mining sluice. They also made a trip to the gift shop purchasing gems to trade and a few snacks. Next time, I am definitely packing a picnic lunch and enjoying the spacious picnic shelters!
The Ohio Caverns are open 363 days a year (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas) and make learning about Beautiful Ohio fun and exciting. For more information, please visit ohiocaverns.com.
Ainslie Gordon is a St. Louis, Missouri native and graduate of the University of Missouri’s Journalism School. Her career has focused on advertising, public relations and event planning. In 2011, Ainslie and her family moved to Cincinnati; and she became a stay-at-mom and founder of the blog, Modhousewife.
Additionally, she was a fashion/trends contributor on Fox 19 and Fox 2. Currently, Ainslie is the Marketing Director for Game On! Fitness. She is also a Girl Scout leader and enjoys volunteering throughout the community.