"Rio Camuy caves interior (2)" by Damian Entwistle via Flickr Creative Commons

The infrastructure of North American cave systems is unparallel. This means less adventure for the expert caver, but easier access and better facilities for the beginner. There is everything from vast desert tunnels to huge crevasses covered in pine and ferns. Scientific data is well documented on most aspects of caves in this region and you may find speleogists hard at work with even further research. Whether you are in Kentucky, Hawaii, or Mexico you will have a decent set of options to begin your journey into the world of spelunking.

  1. Ape Cave, Washington This lava tube was created by an eruption on Mount St. Helens almost 2,000 years ago. It extends more than 2.5 miles and is the largest continuous known lava tube in the Western Hemisphere.
  2. Mammoth Caves, Kentucky The largest cave system in the world and a UNESCO biosphere reserve and heritage site has more than 360 miles of mapped tunnels, although only about ten miles are open to tourists.
  3. Sonora Caverns, Texas New crystals are still forming in much of this vast cave complex in Southern Texas. Filled with loads of sparkling mineral formations from coral trees to stalactites.
  4. Moaning Cavern, California First explored by gold miners and then rediscovered a century ago, Moaning gets its name from the eerie sounds of water dropping into the holes in the limestone. This is the largest cave on the West coast and is large enough to hold the Statue of Liberty inside.
  5. Jewel Cave, South Dakota This vast cave complex has hundreds of miles that have already been mapped, nut many more remain. Jewel is the third longest cave in the world.
  6. Rat’s Nest Cave, Alberta There are no lights, walkways, or handrails at Rat’s Nest Cave. This is a wild and undeveloped system that is seeing more and more tourist traffic that come to rappel and explore the chambers of stalagmites and stalactites, and visit the small grotto.
  7. Oregon Caves National Monument, Oregon Ever since the movie Goonies, cavers have been lured to Oregon’s fascinating cave complexes, especially this system that is a part of the US national parks service who lead 75 minute tours.
  8. Rio Camuy, Puerto Rico Part of the US national parks system, Rio Camuy is the third largest underground river and cavern system in the world and the initial descent can be accessed by a cozy tram.
  9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico More than 85 caves can be found in this national park, including Carlsbad Caverns and Lechuguilla Cave, which are two of the largest and most impressive underground formations in the world.
  10. Marengo Cave, Indiana New Discovery Trips have opened up new sections of the vast cave system in southern Indiana to tourists. Numerous adventure trails and muddy crawls are available here, as well as at several nearby cave complexes.

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