Ultimate Guide to Lost River Caverns, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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Lost River Caverns is a natural limestone cave that has five rooms. The caverns are known as nature’s underground wonderland as people get to discover a lot in this beautiful underground world of crystal formations.
Lost River Caverns, Pennsylvania
The guided walking tour at the caverns lets the visitors explore the various geological formations inside the cave, an indoor tropical garden, and participate in treasure hunting through gem panning. Located in the beautiful Lehigh Valley, the caverns are open throughout the year.
History of Lost River Caverns
The Lost River Caverns is a natural limestone cavern. The cave was discovered during a limestone quarry operation in 1883, and digging was carried out in the place where the parking lot now is. At that time, the operation accidentally created the cave entrance. Since the cave had only one entrance, there were no bats, rats, cavemen, or even the Native Americans inside the cave. But there is reasonable evidence to show that the Native Americans used to bury their dead at the cave entrance. Local folklores claimed that Jesse James and his band of outlaws had used the cave as their hideout though this claim was not verified.
After discovering the caverns, the residents found the underground spaces perfect for multiple uses, including the ballroom. In the late 1800s, a wooden dance floor was constructed, which is now known as Crystal Chapel. The cave had natural air conditioning and regularly held dances in the ballroom.
In the early 20th century, the college fraternities held initiation ceremonies inside the underground chambers of the cave. The bootleggers preferred the dark chambers of the cave to store the wares in the Prohibition Era.
In 1929 the cavern was purchased to create a commercial show cave. In the 1930s, the caverns were open to the public after handrails, lighting, and walkways were added to the caves. The Lost River Caverns is a fully natural cave, barring these artificial additions. A large, decorated room was fully dedicated as a chapel, and it was offered for ceremonial use between 1949 and 2009. The Crystal Chapel has hosted more than 100 ceremonies as it provided a unique setting for memorable celebrations.
Lost River Caverns Fun Facts
- The cave remains open on all days of the year except for the major holidays.
- There are not many chain food kiosks near the cave. However, there are several small places like pizzerias and small taverns where you can sit and have a small meal.
- There are no parking charges at the caverns. The main parking lot is small, but there is a large parking lot across the street that visitors can also use.
Geological Cave Formations in Lost River Caverns
The geologists estimate that the caverns started forming in the past 250,000 years. The cave was formed by the water table dissolving away the limestone and forming the chambers and passageways. The water table dropped significantly, thereby allowing the seepage from the rainfall and the melting snow to remove the minerals from the rocks above the caverns.
These minerals eventually got deposited on the rock surface. Over thousands of years, these minerals slowly build up to form different formations. There are crystal formations within the five chambers of the caverns, namely stalagmites, stalactites, flowstone, helictites, anthodites, soda straws, rimstone, and columns.
Wildlife in Lost River Caverns
The caverns have a wonderful array of wildlife. There are many bat species, camelback crickets, and crayfish, and they have all made this cave their home. Although the bats move out in summer, they come back in groups during the winter months.
A scenic path would lead you away from the cave to a butterfly garden. It is an enclosed garden and is home to various native butterfly species of Kentucky. Further down the path, there is a bird enclosure with more than 130 different species of birds.
Is Lost River Caverns Haunted?
The Lost River Caverns are not haunted, but special Halloween events are held here to make the atmosphere spooky. However, the cave itself is not at all haunted.
How Big are Lost River Caverns?
The Lost River Caverns have a length of 1200 ft and a depth of 80 ft.
Lost River Caverns Tours
Lost River Caverns is a geological wonderland. Once inside the caverns, you will find an abundance of crystal formations within the five beautiful chambers. The Crystal Chapel is one of the five chambers, and it has been the site of more than 80 wedding ceremonies. Records state that the room was also used as a ballroom in the late 1880s. One would also find a wonderful display of fluorescent minerals, and there is an ultraviolet light that illuminates the natural colors of the rocks.
But what is the main highlight of the cavern tours? The beautiful Lost River is, undoubtedly, the main attraction of the tour. The river’s waters are crystal clear and chemically safe to drink too. It is a slow-moving waterway that has no life inside it. Many people have wondered why the waterbody is known as the Lost River. The clear waters of the river originate from an unknown source and then disappear beneath the earth’s surface.
This is not the end of all mysteries here. In 1963, the Queens Room was discovered during a drought when the Lost River suddenly stopped flowing. The room was never opened to the public as the river was always present there, making it difficult for the public to explore the room. There are photographs on display in the Lobby so that visitors can get a clear picture of what the Queen’s Room looked like.
The guide in charge of the tour will tell you about the history and beauty of this cave. You will get to learn many new facts about the cave and see the Lost River, which is so clear that it looks like a mirror. The walk is not dangerous at all, but there are a few places where you should watch your face or head as you are walking. There are sturdy handrails that you can hold on to if you need them, but you should never touch the rocks.
Do carry a flashlight with you when you visit the cave. The path is lit quite well, but you will see much better with a flashlight. You may also use the torch on your smartphone to see better inside the cave. The tour lasts for about 30 minutes.
Lost River Caverns Tour Prices and Discounts
The cost of tickets is as follows –
- Adults – USD 14.50
- Children (3 to 12 years) – USD 9.50
Is Lost River Caverns Cold?
The caverns are consistently 52 degrees F throughout the year.
What to Wear?
Since the cave remains relatively cold throughout the year, a sweater or jacket is recommended and a pair of comfortable walking shoes. Since the cave floor is a bit wet, you should always watch your step.
Lost River Caverns Hours
The working hours of the Lost River Caverns are as under –
- Summer – 9 am to 6 pm.
- Winter – 9 am to 5 pm.
The caverns remain closed on New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.
What to Do at Lost River Caverns (Beside Tours)
Lost River Caverns is not all about touring the caves. You can take part in various activities and visit different places of interest.
There is a large and well-stocked gift shop at the premises of the caverns. You will love the Rock and Mineral shop for the mineral specimens, crystals, jewelry, rough and finished gems.
The Gilman Museum has unique minerals, gems, and rare fossils. There are also animal specimens and various examples of antique weaponry.
Located adjacent to the Gilman Museum, it is a tropical garden with many tropical plants usually found in endangered rainforests. A beautiful waterfall and a fishpond are also housed within the Jungle Garden.
The beautiful Picnic Grove is located just across the main parking lot of the Lost River Caverns. Here you can enjoy a quiet picnic with your friends and family.
Best Time to Visit Lost River Caverns
The caverns are open in both winter and summer, so you can come here any time of the year.
How to Get to Lost River Caverns
These caverns are well-connected with all major cities in the state. If you are coming from Philadelphia and Quakertown Area, you can take Route 611 North to Route 412 North into Hellertown. Take a right turn at the 2nd traffic light in Hellertown. Continue for ½ mile to the Lost River Caverns, which would be on your right.
You can find the directions to the Lost River Caverns from other cities by clicking here.
Hotels near Lost River Caverns
There are no camping facilities at the caverns, but you can put up at one of the many hotels and motels near the caverns. Some of the notable hotels include Wind Creek Bethlehem and Hyatt Place Bethlehem.
Lost River Caverns Details
- Length: 1200 ft
- Time Recommended: 2 to 3 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Kid-friendly: Yes
- Dog-friendly: Yes, but not allowed on tours
- Fees: USD 14.50 for adults
- Hours: 9 am to 6 pm in summer. It closes an hour early in the winter.
Get our Lost River Caverns Guide (Unofficial)
You can see it here:
Visiting the Caverns
Do you need more information before visiting? Call (610) 838 – 8767 or email them through the form for an information packet.
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