Caves to Visit in Wisconsin. Crystal Cave.
Wisconsin caves are must to visit
If you decide to make a list of places to go in Wisconsin your list will be endless. One of the destinations on the list for sure should be visiting Wisconsin caves. While caves are not as abundant in Wisconsin as in other states, they will be definitely a good attraction and fun for the whole family.
Wisconsin’s caves that are mostly of two types (limestone caves and sandstone caves), and they are also of different civility, if we may say so. Caves like in the Ledge View Nature Center, Chilton are authentic, where you access through ladders, crawl your way with flashlights and get wet in the process of exploring. Other caves are very civilized and tourist friendly. The most famous and known is Cave of the Mounds, Blue Mounds, the most beautiful and rich in the variety of its formations cave in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest.
The limestone caves are more prominent in Wisconsin, there you will see amazing stalactites and stalagmites, and maybe even bats (alright, not that you are really eager to see them). The sandstone caves in Wisconsin are mostly found in the southwest corner of the state, and they are as a rule small and dry.
Wisconsin caves are open for the public all year round, so you can visit them any time to come to Wisconsin.
Crystal Caves, Spring Valley is another great place to visit with your entire family
Crystal Cave was discovered in 1881 by a local farm boy, William R. Vanasse. William was walking through the woods just a short distance from his home. The sixteen-year-old, discovered a small leaf-filled sink, probed it with a stick which suddenly slipped from his hand and disappeared into the ground. The next day William and his younger brother, George, descended into the large vertical entrance. Now you can see this point during your tour.
Crystal Cave (called Sander’s Corner Cave at that time) remained unexplored for many decades and only in 1941 was developed and commercialized by Henry A. Friede, an advertising agency manager and amateur geologist from Eau Claire, Wisconsin. The Cave was explored to some extend, cleaned and made into a well-known local attraction. Later on the business became very prosperous and was sold several times.
Major exploration in the cave began in 1992, almost tripling the length of the known cave. Exploration continues, discovering new footage all the time.
Where are the bats?
Crystal cave have a unique geology in Western Wisconsin, and it is a home to four bat species.
The cave has a “layered cake” appearance, because limestone and dolomite have been deposited in the caves one layer at a time. Crystal Caves does not have active water flows, and visitors can walk through a series of rooms, passages, and domes.
You can take a general tour or check their education programs. The tour is an hour-long and it is fascinating.
The cave temperature stays the same all year round and it is near 50 degrees. So, I recommend you to take a sweatshirt or a warm hoodie. The cave is not accessible to strollers or wheelchairs. If you take a baby with you, mind that baby front packs are allowed, but back carries are not.
The guides are very knowledgeable and with great sense of humor, they will lead you through passages filled with glistening cave formations. Stalactites, stalagmites and rippling flowstone can be seen hanging from the ceiling or covering the ledges.
Little children get very excited to see the bats. In our group there was a boy who had one and the same question every time when a guide asked us if we had any questions- “Where are the bats?”
To the boy’s disappointment and to my great relieve, all the bats were out of the cave at that time.
Finally the guide showed us a sleeping bat on the ceiling, but I have a strong suspicion that the bat was faked.
More than just a cave
The adventure at Crystal Cave won't be entirely underground.
There is a very nice Lodge Gift Shop offering wide variety of items and apparel. It is like a small gemstone museum, where you can see different beautiful gems.
You can even have a hands-on gem panning experience. What a great souvenir it makes when you take with you a gemstone washed out of dirt by your own hands!
I found a great gift for my son in the gift shop, an amazing soapstone chess set.
Did I mention that the Gift shop has mouth watering brownies hard to resist?
You will enjoy the tour for sure!
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