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Ultimate Guide to Crystal Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Crystal Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Crystal Cave, discovered in 1871, is the most popular natural attraction in Pennsylvania. It was discovered by a couple of farmers who were busy blasting land with the hope of finding limestone. Instead, what they found was an important discovery for the people of Kutztown, where the cave is located. The Crystal Cave was opened to the public just six months after its discovery.  

Ultimate Guide to Crystal Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Crystal Cave, Pennsylvania

Newspapers had described Crystal Cave as more beautiful than the famous Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. It was the first show cave that opened its doors in the state and is one of the oldest operating show caves in the US. 

History of Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave was discovered by farmers looking for limestone to increase soil fertility. William Markle blasted into a hillside on his father’s farm when he was mining for limestone. Although he could never find that limestone deposit he hoped for, he uncovered a large cavity with several sparkling crystals adorning its walls. 

The farmers had no idea about the caves, and they sold the property to Samuel Kohler, who was the pioneer of visitor caves in the state. He let the scientists explore the cave and took the initiative in building boardwalks, railings, and stairs for safe passage, installing the lights, and started cave tours for visitors at only 25 cents. He showed tremendous commitment towards Crystal Cave, and in 1872, the first show cave was operational in the state. It was one of the first tourist sites in Pennsylvania and is still very popular with visitors. 

Ultimate Guide to Crystal Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Kohler was remarkable in advertising too. He would leave some trade cards at the train stations and give the cave details and testimonials from people who mattered then. He soon started operating a four-mile horse-drawn carriage, and the innovation was so popular that the railroad established a depot at Virginville to make the trip shorter. Kohler also made another addition to the farmhouse on the property and opened the Cave Hotel. 

In November 1886, Kohler sold the cave and its operations to David Kohler, his son, for USD 4300. After taking over, David purchased a liquor license for the hotel and organized dances in the Crystal Cave Ballroom. 

In 1923, David sold Crystal Cave and its operations to J. Douglas Kaufman, who operated it till 1972. He then sold the ownership to his son, Douglas. His daughter took over the organization’s leadership and became the President in 2007. During their tenure, the Kauffman family had added a miniature golf course, a restaurant, an ice cream parlor, a 2nd gift shop, a nature trail, and a theater. 

Many efforts have been made to preserve Crystal Cave to ensure that it looks exactly like it did 150 years ago. Today, visitors are taken on guided tours of the cave, and they can also treat themselves to Dutch food in the Crystal Cave café. 

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Geological Cave Formations in Crystal Cave

The courteous and trained guides in the Crystal Cave will guide you through an array of beautiful-looking white stalactites, stalagmites, pillars, and dripstone formations. Some of these stone formations are more than half a million years old such as the Cathedral Chamber, the Giant’s Tooth, the Prairie Dogs, the Natural Bridge, the Indian Head, the Crystal Ballroom, and the Totem Pole. 

The 1st speleothem you will encounter is a conical-shaped stalagmite known as Frozen Fountain. The 4 m entrance widens to 10 m, but a dropped rock occupies part of the floor. The accumulated flowstone on the top of the limestone block indicates that the stone has been in that position for thousands of years. Beyond this lies the Crystal Ballroom, which has been so-called because aragonite crystals cover the speleothems.

The chamber can be entered by passing under the Natural Bridge, a large block of rock stationed here millions of years ago. On its return journey, the tour party passes over the Natural Bridge. The large portions of the cave walls are covered with calcite and aragonite crystals, and one part is so densely covered that it forms curtains called Tobacco leaves. The most attractive formation inside the Crystal Cave is the ‘Upside Down Ice Cream Cone,’ which, due to the different colored calcite deposits, looks like vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and the moss and plant life look like mint ice cream. 

Wildlife in Crystal Cave

The lowest point of the cave is Devil’s Den which is 155 ft below the earth’s surface. Herein lives around forty North American brown bats. 

Is Crystal Cave Haunted?

Crystal Cave is a historic landmark in Pennsylvania, but not many people know it is the vortex of paranormal activity in the region as several haunted locations surround it. People have experienced many strange things here, like the flickering of lights and hearing footsteps when no one is around. However, all these have not dampened the people’s spirits as Crystal Cave receives thousands of visitors every year. 

How Big is Crystal Cave?

Crystal Cave has a length of 500 ft from the main entrance to the back of the cave.

Crystal Cave Tours

The tickets for the cave tour can be purchased in the gift shop in the same building that was once known as Kohler’s Cave Inn. The 55 min tour begins with a 13 min movie titled “Inside the Earth,” shown in the Crystal Cave Theater. The film describes the geology of the caves and the history of Crystal Caves as a tourist attraction. From the main building, there is a steep climb to the entrance of the Crystal Cave. 

The commercially developed portion of the cave is along a large water-carved passage that takes you to long and spacious rooms. You are taken through various rooms wherein you can see a variety of formations. The names of the rooms have been taken straight from a cave–labeling handbooks, such as Crystal Ballroom, the Devil’s Den, the Bridal Veil, and the Totem Pole.

There is a zoo formation that looks like an assortment of beasts. The guide will also point out a formation that looks like bacon and another one that looks like eggs. You can touch the eggs formation, and visitors enjoy rubbing the yolky concretions. 

The first cave wedding in Pennsylvania was conducted in 1919 in the Crystal Cave near the Upside Down Ice Cream Cone formation. But after this, there was a huge gap of more than 60 years as the next wedding took place in the 1980s. Steel railings and concrete walks are present to ensure your safety on the 125 ft descent underground. 

Crystal Cave Tour Prices and Discounts

The per-person admission charges for the Crystal Cave guided tour are as follows – 

  • Adults (ages 12 and up) – USD 19
  • Children (age 4 to 11 years) – USD 14
  • Children (3 years and under) – Free

The price for Miniature Golf is USD 5 (all ages), and for gemstone panning is 

  • Small gemstone bag – USD 7.99
  • Large fossil bag – USD 12.99
  • The Mother Lode – USD 29.99
  • Mega Strike – USD 58.99

Is Crystal Cave Cold?

The temperature inside the cave is comfortable at 54 degrees throughout, although it can drop to 52 degrees in the winter. 

What to Wear?

The cave temperature remains at a constant of 54 degrees. While this may be refreshing on hot and humid summer days, you should bring a light sweater or jacket if you feel cold. The cave surfaces are steep and can be wet sometimes. Also, the one-hour cave tour involves a lot of walking. So, you must wear comfortable and slip-resistant shoes like sneakers. These shoes will also come in handy if you decide to explore the hiking trails of the Crystal Cave. 

Crystal Cave Hours

This cave remains closed in December, January, and February. For the remaining year, the caves remain open from 9 am to 5 pm on all days, including holidays. However, there is a slight change in timings on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays from May to November when the closing time is pushed back by an hour or two. For the latest timings, one should always check the website of Crystal Cave. 


What to Do at the Crystal Cave (Beside Tours)

After the Crystal Cave tour is over, you will see that the premises offer a range of myriad activities that promise to keep you engaged throughout the day. 

Historic Inn and Gift Shop

The Gift Shop has a unique selection of gifts and souvenirs for your friends and loved ones back home. They have sweatshirts, shirts, onyx chess sets, lamps, and bookends. In summer, the 2nd Gift Shop is opened where one can buy additional souvenirs. 

Rock and Mineral Shop

The Rock & Mineral Shop has thousands of unusual rock and mineral specimens from various parts of the world, and it includes gemstones like Quartz, Onyx, Agate, and spheres and geodes. 

Gemstone Panning

Visitors need to purchase a special bag of dirt from the Crystal Cave Gift Shop and then use it in the sluice to discover a variety of gemstones. The running water will wash away the dirt and leave behind a beautiful collection of gemstones that you are allowed to keep as souvenirs. 

Ice Cream Parlor

The Ice Cream Parlor has a wonderful assortment of hand-dipped ice cream cones and sundaes that are available throughout July and August and on the weekends in June and September. 

Miniature Golf

It is a unique 18-hole golf course using historic relics as obstacles. The miniature golf course is open seasonally. 

Restaurant/ Café

The restaurant opens daily in July and August and on weekends in June and September. It offers a variety of beverages, food, and Dutch specialties. There are provisions for both indoor and outdoor seating at this restaurant.

Historic Museum & Trading Post

The Historic Museum showcases the history of Crystal Cave from 1871 to the present. It has several adverting and promotional materials, antique furnishings, and the 1891 Opera Bus stagecoach used to transport tourists to and from the location train station till 1912. 

Hiking Trail

The scenic and educational nature trail has been carved through the woods, and you will get a chance to view more than 300,000 evergreen trees that have been planted over the years. 

Best Time to Visit Crystal Cave

This cave remains closed for three months a year. Since the tours have a limited capacity, it is good to call the office beforehand to confirm the availability and hours of operation. If you get a spot for the tour, you should arrive early. The tours on the weekend are usually full by 1 pm. 

How to Get to Crystal Cave

This cave is located on Crystal Road in Kutztown. From I-78, one needs to take Exit 35. Take 222 South to exit for Kutztown and follow the signs for five miles. Crystal Cave is only 12 miles from Cabela’s. 

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Provide a safe bat habitat!

Hotels Near This Cave

There are quality hotels, motels, and B&B options near here. Some of the properties like Hampton Inn & Suites Kutztown and Hawk Mountain B&B are within six miles distance of Crystal Cave. 

Places To Stay Nearby

Crystal Cave Fun Facts

  • The Devil’s Den is the lowest point in the cave and is 155 ft below the earth’s surface. 
  • The highest point inside the cave is 65 ft below the earth’s surface, and the area is known as the Lookout Point as, from here, one can view the 2/3rd portion of the cave. 
  • Some of the rock formations in the cave are more than half-million years old. 
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Crystal Cave Details 

  • Length: 500 ft
  • Time Recommended: 3 to 4 hours 
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Fees: USD 19 onwards
  • Hours: 9 am to 5 pm

Download our Crystal Cave Guide (Unofficial) 

Visiting the Crystal Cave

Do you need additional information before visiting? Call (610) 683 – 0070 for an information packet. 

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