Lost River Cave: Bowling Green, KY

When the weather is 100+ we usually stay indoors as much as possible, but after a while of this we are all craving a little outdoor activity. We decided a trip to a cave would be fantastic considering the temperature inside caves are in the mid-fifties all year long.

Lost River Cave has a rich history. Native Americans used it during the hot summer months. Later, it was used by settlers. During the civil war, it stored supplies first for the confederates before later being discovered by the union army. After southern reconstruction, a mill was built in the entrance to the cave, but it burned three times. It is even told that Jesse James and his men used the cave. In the 30's it was a nightclub and the most popular spot in town because it was the only place with air conditioning. After air conditioning became common, the cave became an illegal dump until a nonprofit decided to clean it up and make it into what you see today.

The tour is a boat ride through a few large caverns with interesting geological formations. I wish I had some pictures, but nothing turned out. Suffice it to say it was cool and fascinating.

The Blue Holes, or Karst Windows, are both beautiful and deadly. They are places where the underground river breaks through to the surface. Even though it looks stagnant, the water is swirling and flowing. The water had fish and frogs. These bullfrogs were at least the length of my hand. Limestone is the key ingredient for all of these formations. Because limestone is easily dissolved and worn away, caves and underground tunnels are made. Even the blue hue from the pools is from the dissolved limestone in the water. The beauty of these holes remind me of a scene from a fairy tale.

And, just like a fairy tale, there is often a cruel twist. The stories of the deaths that have happened here were shocking. Entire wagons, horses and crews fell off the path and into the pools never to be seen again. Swimmers would jump in never to resurface, nor did their would be rescuers. For years the pools were thought to be haunted, cursed, or bottomless. Measurements were taken that gave differing results. They now know the bottom is full of holes and tubes with the river's current being pulled through. These picturesque pools run swift and deep.

In addition to the cave tour, there are several miles of hiking paths that are free. Even with soaring temperatures, the shade made it tolerable. There is a butterfly house on the trails which didn't disappoint. There were tons of butterflies flying about that would alight on people if they were still for a moment.
The last stop for us was sluicing for minerals and fossils. My kids love this. We purchased a bag (either fossils or minerals) and poured it into a sieve which was then swirled in the troughs of running water to reveal their treasure. The bags were full of great things, but the best find was when my kids followed the water and discovered eddies that contained piles of sand from previous little miners. When they put these piles through the sieves, they discovered several treasures that had been left behind. My eagle-eye husband found several more just walking along and looking in the grass underneath the trough. If not for the heat, my little treasure hunters would have stayed there all day! 


  1. We went to Lost River Cave in the 100+ degrees two summers ago. It was really beautiful! Your post has made me want to revisit cave city!

    1. It was a lot of fun. I wish I had felt better that day, but it was a lot of fun anyway.