After visiting Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone Caverns, the next stop on my journey through the Indiana Cave Trail was at Marengo Cave. They were kind enough to give me a private tour to help with my coverage of the Indiana Cave Trail. Marengo Cave is a U.S. National Natural Landmark and for good reason – it’s absolutely stunning! If you’ve never been cave exploring before and are not sure how you’ll handle being underground, Marengo Cave is a great first choice! The pathways are easy to walk and each cave room is open and airy feeling. It’s a great choice for those worried about being claustrophobic.
I stayed at Buffalo Trace Campground in Palmyra, Indiana which was pretty much situated smack dab in the middle of the Indiana Cave Trail. It was a great central(ish) location to easily access all 4 cave systems.
Entering Marengo Cave:
Marengo Cave has two walking tours and if you can I highly recommend taking both!
The entry way is the smallest part of the trip and it’s not bad. It’s a very short stone pathway maybe 30 feet or so. When you step inside you find yourself in a vast cave room.
Inside Marengo Cave:
There are two different cave tours in Marengo Cave:
Crystal Palace– 40 minutes. This tour gives you the history of the discovery of this cave and focuses on what it was like to discover this for the first time. Since I had a private tour I was able to have a combination of these two tours. I’m always fascinated to hear how caves were found and the journey that the discovery takes the cave over the years. The cave rooms on this tour are large with plenty of formations to marvel over!
Dripstone Trail– 60 minutes. This tour will literally give you a unique once in a lifetime experience. You’ll see below in my spoiler alert about a special coin ceiling. That ceiling is seen in this tour. You’ll also see an insane amount of soda straws and other-worldly stalagmites. You’ll also learn more about the underground river that helped carve out this cave system. It’s about a 1 mile walk from start to finish.
If you’ve ever read any of my other cave posts (check out my Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone Caverns posts here – they are also on the Indiana Cave Trail!) – you’ll know that I’ve been in over 30 cave systems in the United States, much of them in the Midwest. I was in absolute awe over HOW MANY formations are inside of Marengo Cave! You can see in the photo above – I felt like I was walking down into the center of the earth, or on another planet! It was CRAZY WILD! It’s certainly an amazing experience!
The walk inside of Marengo Cave is very easy. The pathways are well carved out but there is no railing and in a few portions of the cave you will need to walk around rock formations in the middle of the pathway. This is a GREAT cave for families with children as well as our older friends that are up for a good walk.
Above you can see the walkways and that they are pretty smooth. After being in Indiana Caverns and Squire Boone caverns I couldn’t imagine loving a cave even more but each next cave on the Cave Trail that I entered I fell in love. It’s impossible to pick a favorite! They are all so unique!
Because this cave was discovered in 1883 it has a long history of use! In fact it was opened to the public almost immediately and has been open ever since. It was filled with music as a Natural Bandstand in Music Hall in the early 1900’s. I’m a little jealous but they even have weddings in the cave! In the early 1920’s a church gathered inside the cave with the preacher giving his sermon right from Pulpit Rock!
During the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) it was designated as a civil defense shelter, although it was never used. Over the years it has also housed a school musical product, a film location, overnight youth camps, and other community oriented programs. In fact in the winter they even have a night of caroling inside the cave!
This was an awesome point of interest for cave enthusiasts – the inside of a soda straw! Look at the layers that you can clearly see! VERY VERY cool! These rings are created by mineral deposits from the water that drips down.
I didn’t get a chance to explore much outside of the cave but they do have camping available! You can see more about their lodging here.
WOW! The walk through Marengo Cave is just incredible! I wish I could have spent the day down there! If you’re up for a serious adventure they do offer quite a few other cave exploring options including behind a waterfall!!! I just walked through most of these two tours with such awe at the amazing nature around me!
As I was continuing down the cave path I entered a giant cave room that was so vast, but my eyes were immediately drawn to something shimmering above me. It was almost like glitter plastering the ceiling, I couldn’t figure out what it was due to the dim light…..until my tour guide shined a light on the ceiling.
I had the pleasure of discovering this section of the cave without knowing about it! So SPOILER ALERT if you are headed there for the first time – this is A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.! I’ve never seen, or even heard, about another cave having this feature! You will see the “penny ceiling” on the Dripstone Trail cave tour. The cave ceiling is caked in a special type of mud (naturally) and over the years people have thrown objects up to the ceiling to watch them stick!
Typically in a cave you are NOT allowed to touch anything, and especially not leave anything in the cave as it can do irreparable harm. But this portion of the cave just grab fallen pennies off of the floor and chuck them up at the ceiling and watch them stick!!! It’s SO FUN!
Out of all of the caves in the Indiana Cave Trail I was able to get the best photos here in Marengo Cave. It can be extremely difficult to take photos inside of a cave due to low lighting and any unsettled particles floating around. You can see in all of my photos (and there are a LOT!) that the cave is very well lit everywhere you go. The ONLY time you will be in the dark is when your tour guide will let you know they are turning off lights for a few seconds so that you can experience what it would have been like for the very first cave explorers in the dark. It gives you a great perspective.
Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly handle any more beautiful scenes we walked into this section of the cave where the two tours meet. If you look at the flooring in the photo above it’s actually a large pool of water (only a few inches deep at most). It reflects the rock formations from above and is just stunning. This photo does NOT do it justice and I couldn’t stop staring as the light tricks you onto the water as you stare at the reflections.
As you walk through the cave, and most cave systems, the ecology of the cave can change drastically depending on it’s water sources, or lack thereof. Towards the end of my time in Marengo Cave were vast flowstone, stalagmites, and other large scale cave formations.
I don’t know why but I am just so obsessed with caves. I find a beauty and awe in their uniqueness and formations. Look how majestic these formations are!
The lighting at this spot was extremely difficult for photos but it was one of my favorite spots in the cave. I felt like I had stepped into a long tunnel of Alice in Wonderland or something. I was completely surrounded by ethereal formations overhead and on all sides of me. It was absolutely incredible.
This here is one of the largest rooms of the cave on the tours. Strangely enough above this cave room is a historic cemetery that was built in the 1800’s before the cave was discovered.
Marengo Cave is a DON’T MISS attraction in Indiana! You won’t be disappointed on this cave tour. Whether you’ve never visited a cave before or you’ve been to dozens of them – Marengo Cave is a MUST SEE stop to explore! I would absolutely go back if given the chance and appreciated the opportunity to tour the cave!
Details to Visit Marengo Cave:
GPS Address: 400 East State Road 64 Marengo, IN 47140
Phone Number: (888) 702-2837
Social: Facebook, Twitter
Open: Every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Age: ALL! (Small children CAN be carried.)
Pets: YES! Small dogs may be taken inside the cave if carried during the entire tour.
Rates: See website, each tour is different. SPECIAL DEALS here!
NOT Allowed: Strollers, wheelchairs, backpacks