The 10 Best Caves in Pennsylvania to Explore (2022)

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Thanks to the state’s geological makeup, there are hundreds of caves in Pennsylvania. And while many of these spots are closed to the public or totally undiscovered, some are open for tours and exploration.

During my time exploring Pennsylvania, I’ve had a chance to visit each of the show caves in PA, as well as a few that sit on public property awaiting intrepid (but cautious) explorers.

Below are a few of the best Pennsylvania caves that I’ve had a chance to visit during my travels.

Penn’s Cave

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If you’ve driven anywhere near Centre County you’ve no doubt seen billboards for Penn’s Cave, possibly the most advertised of all the caverns in PA.

This is also the most unique cave in the state because the entire tour is done by boat as the vast majority of Penn’s Cave is flooded by an underground stream. It is said that this is the only all-water cave in the country.

As you float through the cavern, guides point out many of the cave’s interesting formations.

In addition to the cave, this site features a wildlife park, a maze, and several other fun attractions.

Indian Echo Caverns

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Indian Echo Caverns is located near both Hershey and Harrisburg in Dauphin County making it a convenient spot to visit if you are near those popular areas.

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Indian Echo Caverns got its name because of its use by Native Americans long before European settlers first arrived in the area. The cave was also home to a hermit for many years and was where a mysterious box was found in the early 20th century (which is on display in the gift shop).

The 10 Best Caves in Pennsylvania to Explore (3)

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Tours take you through the rooms of this cavern and its many beautiful and large formations.

Laurel Caverns

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Laurel Caverns is the only show cave in the western half of Pennsylvania and is also the largest of the caverns in Pennsylvania. In fact, it’s one of the largest in the country!

Laurel Caverns, which is located only a short distance from the popular Ohiopyle State Park, offers both guided and self-guided tours of its underground world. This cave is unique among caves in Pennsylvania in that it lacks a large number of formations due to its mineral composition and has incredibly smooth walls.

In addition to regular tours, Laurel Caverns also offers spelunking opportunities deep underground in its ever-expanding passageways.

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Black-Coffey Caverns

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For nearly 70 years, Black-Coffey Caverns in Franklin County was closed to the public, but in 2021, it reopened for limited tours on select days.

Interestingly, the cavern is accessed via a door in the basement of a private home, which means that the family that owns it has their own private cave!

Below ground, there are no lights, so the cave is lit only by the flashlights of visitors exploring this underground world. And, while it doesn’t have as many formations as some other caves, the unique experience here and the twists and turns of the narrow passageways at the far end make for a very unique experience.

If you’re lucky, the guides might even show you the cave’s fluorescent rocks, something you won’t see in many other PA caverns.

Lost River Caverns

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Lost River Caverns is located in the Lehigh Valley only a few minutes outside of Bethlehem, PA.

Owned by the same family since it first opened to the public more than 90 years ago, this Pennsylvania cave features many beautiful formations, including some great examples of flowstone.

The highlight of the cavern is, not surprisingly, the Lost River. This underground waterway can be both heard and seen at several points during the tour. It is said that the outlet of the stream has never been discovered despite several attempts to figure out where the water comes above the surface.

Coral Caverns

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Of all of the caves in Pennsylvania, there might be none that are less known than Coral Caverns in Bedford County. That’s because this site has nearly no internet presence at all.

However, those adventurous enough to visit are in for a real treat at this family-owned cave.

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Coral Caverns was discovered during mining operations in the area and is one of the smallest PA caves. However, the unique lighting and interesting geology here make this a spot well worth visiting.

Interestingly, the cave features a wall with fossilized coral embedded into it (which gives the cavern its name). These fossils are said to date back to when the area was covered by an inland sea over 400 million years ago.

Lincoln Caverns

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Lincoln Caverns can be found near Huntingdon, PA, and the popular Raystown Lake and is directly along Route 22. In fact, it was first discovered during the construction of the highway.

There are actually two different caverns that can be seen on a tour of Lincoln Caverns, and it’s thought that they don’t connect despite being very close to each other. These two caves also have different looks, which makes seeing them both quite interesting.

Lincoln Caverns is also unique among Pennsylvania caves for running many different underground events including a haunted cave experience and visits with Santa.

Woodward Cave

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Woodward Cave is a beautiful underground world located in eastern Centre County. (Making Centre County the only county in PA with two show caves.)

This cavern is best known for having a large stalagmite known as the Tower of Babel. It is said that this is the largest-known stalagmite in Pennsylvania, and it’s quite large and impressive to see.

I also enjoyed seeing parts of Woodward Cave that are considered dead, meaning there are no formations growing anymore and large cracks in the rock aren’t being repaired by nature. There are even several places where large boulders that fell thousands of years ago sit in the middle of the rooms.

Crystal Cave

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Crystal Cave in Berks County has the distinction of being the first of Pennsylvania’s caves to open to the public, with the first paying guests visiting in 1872.

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Tours of the cave start with a video about its history, the only cave that offers a video along with its guided tour. The underground world here is quite beautiful and it got its name because early explorers thought the underground rocks shimmered like crystal.

I was especially impressed by the large central room here, which is among the largest underground spaces in PA.

Tytoona Cave

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Most Pennsylvania caves that are open for visitors to explore require you to take a guided tour, but Tytoona Cave in Blair County is an exception.

This spot is simply open for anyone who wants to go in and have a look around to visit whenever they would like as the land is owned by the National Speleological Society.

The large opening here is half stone passageway and half stream (though if water levels are high, there may be no passageways at all). Visitors can walk into the cave and go back nearly 1,000 feet along the main passageway to try their hand at some amateur spelunking.

Going further requires both permission from the owners and diving equipment.

What are your favorite caves in Pennsylvania to visit? Let us know in the comments below!

Looking for more great places to visit in PA? Check out my Pennsylvania Bucket List, my picks for the 7 Natural Wonders of PA, and the Best Pennsylvania State Parks for History Lovers.

FAQs

What is the largest cave in Pennsylvania? ›

Pennsylvania's largest cave can be discovered in the Laurel Highlands at Laurel Caverns Geological Park near Hopwood. Traditional guided tours of the cave's miles of passages are available, and thrill-seekers can rappel from 45 feet off the ground in the developed cave.

How many caves are there in PA? ›

Thanks to the region's thick layers of limestone, Pennsylvania offers a treasure trove of caves to explore. The Keystone State is home to seven beautiful show caves and approximately 1,100 other private mapped caverns across the state.

What caves are in Central PA? ›

Woodward Cave is home to the largest known stalagmite in PA. Woodward Cave is a beautiful underground world located in eastern Centre County. (Making Centre County the only county in PA with two show caves.) This cavern is best known for having a large stalagmite known as the Tower of Babel.

How deep is the water in Penn's cave? ›

It turns out that the water is only 3 to 5 feet deep. As we glided into the cavern, the sparse sunlight illuminated the wispy clouds our breath was forming.

How long is the Penns cave tour? ›

A 45-50 minute fully-guided tour of the all-water cavern, given entirely by boat! The cave tour is not handicapped accessible – there are 48 steep concrete steps that lead to the dock entrance where the tour boats are boarded. There are handrails on either side of the stairs.

Is Laurel Caverns worth visiting? ›

As Pennsylvania's largest cave and one of the largest private caves in the country, Laurel Caverns is special because of its size. In addition, its geological makeup and unique activities make it definitely worth visiting.

How long does it take to walk through Laurel Caverns? ›

The Traditional Tour

This 30 minute guided tour is a 600 foot long walk through the easiest passages of Laurel Caverns. There are no steps. Because this part of the cave is a maze, one sees about 1,200 feet of colorfully lighted passages.

Who owns Penns cave? ›

Penn's Cave CEO and property owner Russ Schleiden said Penn's Cave didn't ask for this, rather PennDOT proposed it. Schleiden said they've been seeing a safety issue for a long time and that it's a serious problem. The speed limit through the area is 25 mph, which means people go 35, he said.

What is a cavern tour? ›

The tour moves at a leisurely pace through a dozen cave rooms where visitors learn about the cave's history, early uses, and interesting geological formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns and flowstones.

What is in the cave? ›

These include flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws and columns. These secondary mineral deposits in caves are called speleothems.

What is the biggest cave in the United States? ›

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored, and one of the oldest tour attractions in North America. Mammoth Cave National Park preserves the cave system, a part of the Green River Valley, and the rolling hills of south central Kentucky.

What cave in Pennsylvania do you have to ride a boat through? ›

Located in Centre Hall, Pennsylvania, Penn's Cave is one of nine show caves in PA. However, it is the only one that takes visitors through the cave entirely by boat. In fact, Penn's Cave claims to be America's only all-water cavern. The cave has been long-known to the local Seneca Indians that lived in the area.

Does Penns cave have bats? ›

Penn's Cave is not only home to many visitors every year but also to another mammal, the bat! This bat, Myotis lucifugus, is Pennsylvania's most common bat species. During the fall, the bats move into the caverns to hibernate because of the constant temperature and good airflow.

What town is Penns cave in? ›

Our physical address is:

The Penn's Cave Airport is open daily for private fly-ins for pilots and their passengers who wish to visit our attraction. FAA Designated, N 74 Airport, Detroit Sectional, 2500 ft x 40 ft asphalt. This is an unmanned, no-service facility.

When did Penn's Cave open? ›

In 1885, Penn's Cave opened as a commercial show cavern, and the Penn's Cave Hotel was built.

Are there bats in Laurel Caverns? ›

Because of its size, Laurel Caverns is also the largest natural bat hibernaculum in Pennsylvania.

Who discovered Laurel Caverns? ›

The first official cave owner was Richard Freeman who acquired the 400 acres adjoining Downard by lot drawing from the Commonwealth in 1794.

Are dogs allowed at Laurel Caverns? ›

Yes. dogs are allowed but must be carried unless it's a service dog.

Is Laurel Caverns wheelchair accessible? ›

However, the paved walkways on the tour are 1.25 miles in length with some areas having steep grades that may require wheelchair assistance by one or more persons. Since the need for assistance is necessary, Luray Caverns is not listed as handicapped accessible.

How long does it take to walk through Laurel Caverns? ›

The Traditional Tour

This 30 minute guided tour is a 600 foot long walk through the easiest passages of Laurel Caverns. There are no steps. Because this part of the cave is a maze, one sees about 1,200 feet of colorfully lighted passages.

How was Laurel Caverns formed? ›

Hillside Collapse, Entrance Exposed

At a time long before the first pyramids were build, a portion of cave passage closest to the edge of the hillside collapsed. At the bottom of the sink hole formed by this collapse lay the entrance to Laurel Caverns.

What is in the cave? ›

These include flowstones, stalactites, stalagmites, helictites, soda straws and columns. These secondary mineral deposits in caves are called speleothems.

Is Laurel Caverns worth visiting? ›

As Pennsylvania's largest cave and one of the largest private caves in the country, Laurel Caverns is special because of its size. In addition, its geological makeup and unique activities make it definitely worth visiting.

Are there bats in Laurel Caverns? ›

Because of its size, Laurel Caverns is also the largest natural bat hibernaculum in Pennsylvania.

Are dogs allowed at Laurel Caverns? ›

Yes. dogs are allowed but must be carried unless it's a service dog.

When was Laurel Caverns formed? ›

Its average temperature is 52°F (11° C). Located in Farmington, Pennsylvania, it sits on the Chestnut Ridge near Uniontown, about 50 miles (80 km) southeast of Pittsburgh. Stairs, lit with electric lights, lead into the cavern. It is a privately owned show cave founded in 1968.

Which is better Skyline Caverns or Luray Caverns? ›

So, Which Shenandoah Valley Cavern? When it comes down to choosing between the two, it's personal preference. For those who are ready to be humbled by incredibly massive cavern formations and don't mind larger tour groups, Luray Caverns is the way to go.

Which is better Grand Caverns or Luray Caverns? ›

Grand Caverns is much smaller than the Luray Caverns but that's one of the reasons why I loved this tour so much – it felt so intimate. All the rock formations are much closer, the ceilings are lower and it simply feels like you've been transported to a magical new world.

Are the Luray Caverns worth it? ›

Luray Caverns is not worth no $23 for adults, maybe $10 at most. We had more fun in the maze and the museum then the caverns, after about 10 minutes in the caverns it got boring.

What is the creature in the cave? ›

THE CAVE MOVIE (2005) MONSTERS EXPLAINED - YouTube

Is cave water clean? ›

When water is able to flow through the grains of bedrock, the bedrock is able to filter and remove contaminants. In karst, the grains of the bedrock are dissolved and larger and larger conduits are created. Conduits, like caves, provide little, if any filtration of contaminants.

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