We recently took a short trip to Bowling Green, Kentucky to pick up my husband’s Christmas present from my Mom and Step-Dad. While they don’t live in Bowling Green (or even in Kentucky), we decided to meet there due to that is where the Corvette Museum is located and well, my husband and step-dad LOVE Corvettes.
When I realized we would have a day to burn before heading back, I pulled up roadtrippers.com to see what attractions were around there. That’s when I found the Lost River Cave. Unfortunately, when we visited it was raining and had been raining the prior day as well; but that didn’t stop us from taking a tour.
The history of the cave is somewhat bizarre and very unique. Plus, you explore it by riding in a boat!
History of Lost River Cave
The cave actually has quite a history that dates back to prehistoric time when Paleo Indians inhabited that area from 12,000 B.C. to 7500 B.C. Tribes would camp at the cave during winter for shelter and the endless supply of water.
During the Civil War, both sides used the cave as a camp which offered plenty of water and a getaway from the horrors of war. Evidence of their presence remains on the cave’s ceilings of upper passages where they signed their names using smoke-writing.
In the 1930’s the cave was used as a night club! The cave’s large entrance (one of the largest entrances east of the Mississippi) made it an ideal spot to build a nightclub. The cave entrance was also used for church picnics and high school proms from 1934 to the late 1950’s.
The nightclub eventually shut down and the cave eventually became a dumping site for over 30 years. In 1990, local citizens that were led by Dr. Nicholas Crawford began cleaning out the cave and restoring it. In 1998 it opened to tours under the management of Friends of the Lost River, Inc., a non-profit organization.
Information & Tips
The Lost River Cave & Nature Center is open to tours 7 days a week from 10am-4pm however, weather and school field trips sometimes postpone tours, so make sure you call ahead.
In addition to touring the cave (which is done by boat), there is also 2 miles of hiking/nature trails and a butterfly habitat. You can also enjoy a discovery cave crawl, treasure mining, geocaching, and kayaking the cave.
Allow yourself time to explore the park, you will be glad you did. It is absolutely beautiful!
Bring money for the gift shop. It helps support the upkeep and maintenance of the cave. Plus, the gift shop has a lot of really neat items (I think I spend more time in there than on the trails lol).
7 Days A Week ** 10am-4pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day & New Year’s Day – Closed early Christmas Eve & New Year’s Eve
Lost River Cave • 2818 Nashville Road • Bowling Green • KY • 42101
I-65, Exit 22