What an amazing place! It was almost 90 degrees outside. Down there it is a wet, humid 55 degrees all year round. The tour is about an hour and a half long. It starts with an elevator ride 150+ feet down. You walk a while and then climb into a boat that takes you to the end of the cavern's electric lights.
A tiny trickle of water under the ground carved this natural beauty over tens of thousands of years. They call it The River Styx.
This photo was taken straight down. The water runs below the foot path.
They used all kinds of funky color lamps to light the way to highlight particular features. In this section, the ceiling is 50+ ft from the water level. The many formations have been given names. The Stalactites featured here are called the Hands of Tobacco.
The cavern itself is certainly not an inactive place. The waters are still flowing with their cascading limestone and calcite deposits. It looks like a thick coating of slime. However it is hard, cold and smooth to the touch. This is a formation of Flowstone.
This next formation is called the Two Witches. Can you see them?
Once upon a time, the River Styx Flowed much higher and faster. The water carved grottoes into the walls forming these beautiful niches.
This next feature was amazing. See the man with his head in the rock? This rock is a series of stalactites and stalagmites that were covered in flowstone. Pockets between the columns remained open. When you Hummm or sing into the opening in the stone, you're voice is echoed and amplified to sound like a pipe organ. The acoustics were phenomenal.
Here's a look at the outside of the pipe organ...
Here I put the camera into the place where the man's head was and took a shot straight up into the "pipes".
Just before we reached the end of the walking tour, we came to a still section of water. Upon my initial inspection, I thought this was an infinitely deep abyss of water.
It was actually only about 8-10 inches deep with a marvelous view of the reflected ceiling. After the reflecting pool, we were lead onto a boat which the guides pushed through to the end of the underwater lake. I was in the front row for the view of the end of the tour in this direction. The cave goes on for a while more.
I stuck my camera out over the rail to see what was beyond that first turn. The only thing stopping the walking tour from continuing is a lack of lights and footpaths. The Touristy portion of the cave is supposed to be extended further in the next couple of years due to a new land aquisition by the current owners of the facility. A concrete company bought up the rest of the cavern many moons ago. They were mining the calcite and limestone from the other end about a half mile away. The mining has ceased and the land was sold back to the cave proprietors.
Once we exited the boat back where it started, we were guided toward an upper portion of the cavern. Please pardon my buggy eyes and goofy smile. It was dark until the flash goes off. This portion is called the Bridal Altar. You can get married right down there in the cave. In front of this outcropping, there is a piece of calcite On the floor carved into the shape of a heart.
Calcite is translucent. They placed lightbulbs under it to give it an eerie soft glow. It's about 24" across.
Craters of the moon? No. This is what happens when the cave winds blow through and carry the minerals into ripples along the surface of the rocks. Each of these little crevasses are only about a half inch high.
This is where three stalagmites once stood. They have since broken off and been rubbed down by many hands over time.
The mosses that grow under the lights are there only because people have brought the spores in on their clothes.
The end of the tour brings us to the Winding Way. Some portions of this area are only about 24" wide.
With a low ceiling.
There is so much more of this cave to be explored. To do the Adventure Tours you have to be at least 18 years old and not as big as my husband. From what I hear you have to crawl through some spots through the water with waders and a portable light source. The guide informed us that my hubby would not fit through many portions of that tour. My son and I are going to do it when he turns 18. Sounds like fun to me!