Ohio Caverns - Champaign County
"The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for." ~ Joseph Campbell
Ohio Caverns - Champaign County
Open Year Round - Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas (it never hurts to double check before you go)
Hours vary depending on the time of the year.
Nestled in the picturesque landscape of West Liberty, Ohio, lies a geological wonder, the Ohio Caverns. The captivating underground formations are hidden beneath a well-maintained 35 acre park.
The Ohio Caverns offers a mesmerizing glimpse into the ancient geological history of the region. During the busy season, visitors have the chance to explore 2 separate parts of the cave and check out the stunning rock formations. You can take the Historic Tour and learn about the history of the caves, the Natural Wonder Tour to see gorgeous formations, or both. There is also a Limestone Tour for visitors with limited mobility. During the winter you can take the Winter Tour.
Join us as we journey into the depths of Ohio's hidden treasure, the Ohio Caverns, and uncover the secrets that lie beneath the surface.
ABOUT THE OHIO CAVERNS PARK
The Ohio Caverns are primarily known for their stunning underground formations. But the park itself allows you to take in the natural beauty of the picturesque countryside. The park has a spacious shelter house perfect for picnicking, a gift shop, a deck area for leisurely moments, and gem mining. Furthermore, there are convenient indoor restroom facilities.
The gift shop at The Ohio Caverns has a variety of unique souvenirs and keepsakes. Here, you can find a wide selection of items such as minerals, gemstones, jewelry, books, clothing, home décor, and more.
The Ohio Caverns Park is an ideal place for families and nature enthusiasts alike. You get to enjoy the great outdoors while having the chance to explore the underground wonders of the caves.
Ohio Historical Marker Sign
In 1897, a farm boy investigating the disappearance of water into a sinkhole in a nearby field discovered the system of subterranean passageways. Digging down a few feet, he found an opening to a cave that had begun forming perhaps several thousand years earlier during the Ice Age in soluble limestone bedrock that was approximately 400 million years old. Ground water dripping down from the cavern’s ceiling continues to form stalactites, stalagmites, and mineral coatings on the cavern’s walls, floors, and ceiling. A portion of the Ohio Caverns near the discovery site was opened to the public in 1897, but that section closed in 1925 when a more extensive and geologically interesting part of the cave was discovered. Ohio Caverns is the largest known cave in the state and is widely considered to be the most beautiful of all Ohio caves.
CHAMPAIGN COUNTY BICENTENNIAL HISTORICAL
THE OHIO HISTORICAL SOCIETY
THE HISTORICAL TOUR
Approximately 45 Minutes
The Historical Tour takes about 45 minutes to complete. The tour explores segments of the caverns that were observed by visitors between 1897 and 1925. It starts with a very short shuttle bus trip to the original entrance. To get into the cavern, you must first descend 44 steps.
The Historical Tour section of the Ohio Caverns provides visitors with a fascinating journey through time. It offers a deeper understanding of the caverns' rich history. During this guided tour, visitors have the opportunity to learn about the geological formations, early explorers, and the first visitors. The tour guides share insights into the discovery of the caverns in the late 19th century and the development of the site as a tourist attraction.
One of the highlights of the Historical Tour is the chance to explore the historic passages and chambers of the caverns. These passages are less developed and were very hard for the original visitors to navigate, by the light of a lantern. This tour provides a more authentic and immersive experience of what early explorers encountered. Visitors can see graffiti left by early adventurers, adding a historical human touch to the underground journey.
The Historical Tour also talks about conservation efforts that have been used to preserve the natural beauty of the caverns. Visitors will gain insights into the importance of responsible tourism. They will learn about the measures put in place to protect this geological marvel for future generations.
Overall, the Historical Tour at the Ohio Caverns offers a captivating blend of geological wonder and human history. It is a must-visit for those who want to explore the depths of Ohio's past and natural heritage.
The end of the tour concludes with 38 steps that lead back into the visitor center.
THE NATURAL WONDER TOUR
Approximately 1 Hour
The Natural Wonder Tour takes about 1 hour to complete. It starts near the gem mining station. There is a concrete path that works its way to the cave that provides visitors with breathtaking views of the scenic Mingo Valley.
The Natural Wonder Tour gives visitors the opportunity to see some of Ohio’s most extraordinary underground creations. This guided tour takes visitors on an exploration of the breathtaking geological formations.
During the Natural Wonder Tour, visitors will encounter a variety of stunning features. Some of these include massive stalactites and stalagmites, delicate crystal formations, soda straws, and intricate flowstone formations.
The caverns' passages are adorned with a dazzling array of colors, created by minerals and trace elements over thousands of years. Guides provide fascinating insights into the geological processes that shaped these formations. This important information helps visitors appreciate the immense timescales involved in their creation.
One of the highlights of this tour is the Crystal King. It is a massive and truly magnificent column formation that stands as a testament to the caverns' natural grandeur.
Visitors will also have the chance to see the Crystal Sea. The "Crystal Sea" is a shallow pool created to redirect extra water away from the walkway. Its name comes from how it mirrors the beautiful ceiling above.
Sometimes, soda straws get blocked, causing the water that makes them to spill out sideways. This creates unusual shapes called helactites. The "Old Town Pump" is one of the most famous helactites in Ohio Caverns, known for its distinctive appearance.
Overall, the Natural Wonder Tour section of the Ohio Caverns provides an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts, geology buffs, and anyone captivated by the beauty and mysteries of the underground world. It's a journey into a realm where time stands still, and the wonders of the natural world are on full display.
Getting out of the cavern can be difficult for some visitors. You must climb 60 steps to get to the exit.
THE LIMESTONE TOUR
Approximately 25 Minutes
The Limestone Tour is designed for visitors with limited mobility. It follows the same winding path you see at the start of the Natural Wonder Tour and goes on a short loop inside the cave. The guides share some history and geological facts about the cave, and then they help you back up the winding path to the top of the sinkhole.
This tour takes about 25 minutes and requires reservations. You can take this tour from May 1 to September 30, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
THE WINTER TOUR
Approximately 50 Minutes
Our first trip to the Ohio Caverns was during the winter several years ago. It was a very memorable experience. We were the only guests there, and they still gave us a tour. The Winter Tour is available from October 1 through April 30 (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
The special Winter Tour at Ohio Caverns is a combo of the Natural Wonder and Historic Tours. There is even a part that is not shown in the summer. During this tour, winter visitors get to learn both historical and geological information.
To start the tour, you go down 38 steps into the cave. Once inside, you walk on a flat path all the way. At the end, you must climb up 60 steps to a small building in the park's south end. The whole tour lasts about 50 minutes.
Gemstone mining at Ohio Caverns is an exciting and educational activity that allows visitors to experience the thrill of uncovering beautiful gemstones while learning about geology and the mining process.
Important Things to Know Before Your Visit
Before visiting Ohio Caverns, there are several important things to know to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:
The temperature inside the caverns remains 54°F (12°C) year-round. Dress in layers to stay comfortable, and consider bringing a light jacket or sweater, even during the summer months.
Wear comfortable, closed-toe shoes with good traction. The pathways inside the caverns may be wet and uneven in some areas, so suitable footwear is essential.
It is crucial to follow the "No Touching" rule. The oils and dirt on human hands will damage them. Respect the delicate nature of the cave's features and refrain from touching anything inside.
Ohio Caverns only offers guided tours. Listen carefully to your knowledgeable guide, as they provide valuable information about the cave's geology, history, and conservation efforts.
Photography is permitted. However, video recording is not.
Pay attention to safety instructions from your guide. Stay on designated pathways and within roped-off areas. Be cautious on stairs and watch your step, especially in dimly lit areas.
If visiting with children, keep them close and supervise them at all times. Explain the importance of following the rules and respecting the cave environment. Do not allow them to touch anything. This is very important.
Restroom facilities are available near the visitor center. There are no bathrooms inside the caverns.
Food and Drinks
Food and beverages are not allowed inside the caverns. Finish any snacks or drinks before your tour begins.
Plan to arrive early to allow time for parking, ticketing, and any necessary preparations. Tours usually depart promptly at scheduled times.
Respect the Environment
Leave no trace. Don't litter, deface, or remove anything from the cave. We need to do our part to preserve the caverns’ natural beauty for future generations.
The parking lot is quite long and has approximately 30 parking spaces, 2 of which are ADA parking spaces. There are also a few charging station spots. The last time we visited, the parking lot was full and additional parking was allowed on the grass past the parking lot.
Visiting Ohio Caverns is a truly enjoyable and enriching experience, and there are several compelling reasons why:
Ohio Caverns boast breathtaking underground formations, including stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and crystal formations. The beauty of these geological wonders is a sight to behold and provides a sense of wonder and awe.
Exploring the caverns offers a unique opportunity to learn about geology, mineralogy, and cave formation. The caves are wonderful for visitors of all ages.
The Historical Tour allows visitors to step back in time and learn about the early explorers and the cave's discovery.
Ohio Caverns cater to a wide range of visitors, including those with limited mobility. The availability of different tour options, such as the Limestone Tour, ensures that everyone can enjoy the caves.
Whether you visit in the warm summer months or during the cooler winter season, the consistent cave temperature of 54° makes it an ideal year-round destination.
Ohio Caverns is a family-friendly attraction. It offers an opportunity for parents and children to bond over exploration and learning.
The gift shop allows you to take home a piece of the experience. You can purchase minerals, gemstones, and cave-themed merchandise.
Supporting Ohio Caverns helps contribute to the conservation and protection of this natural wonder for future generations.
Adventure and Discovery
Exploring the caverns feels like a true adventure.
Ohio Caverns provides a blend of natural beauty, education, history, and adventure. We believe this makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking an enriching and enjoyable experience. Whether you're a local resident or a traveler passing through, Ohio Caverns offers a unique journey into Ohio’s history.
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT OHIO CAVERNS
Please note that rules and regulations can change at any time. The following information was in effect for Ohio Caverns as of September 2023.
There are bathrooms located next to the gem mining station.
There are no trails for bicycles.
Being underground most of the time, you will probably spot very few birds.
Walking bridge on Natural Wonder Trail.
Concealed carry is not permitted.
Pets are not permitted.
Caves are natural and cement. In areas, the floor can be wet.
Blacktop parking lot has approximately 36 parking spaces. Please see notes above.
There are picnic tables located at the shelter house. There are also tables and chairs on the deck.
There is no playground.
There are few benches scattered through the park. There are none in the caves.
A lot of sun and shade in the park. It's 54°F (12°C) in the caves year-round.
Large shelter house next to the parking lot.
No walking trails.
No walking trails.
There are a few trash cans scattered about in the park. There are no trashcans in the caves.
Small underground pool in the caverns.
There are 2 ADA parking spaces located in the main parking lot.