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Ultimate Guide to Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Penn’s Cave in Pennsylvania is one of the nine show caves in the state. It is the only cave in the US that takes the visitors through the cave entirely by boat. It is believed that the cave was known to the local Seneca Indians who lived in the area for a long time. 

Ultimate Guide to Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania

The main feature of this cave is the two fully guided tours by boat and the wildlife park tour. The nature of the boat tours has changed over the years, but it is a must-do activity as you learn about the history of the cave and the beautiful rock formations. It is a great destination even for those who have visited many other caves in the state. 

History of Penn’s Cave


The Seneca Indians discovered the cave in the Penn’s Valley many centuries ago. The legendary Indian maiden, Nitanee, and her French lover, Malachi Boyer, were forbidden to marry. They eventually ran away but were captured soon after. Malachi was pushed into Penn’s cave to die.

The pottery and the recovered artifacts in Penn’s Cave clearly show that the natural inhabitants of the natural wonder were the Native Americans. As the land encompassing this cave was passed down, the dry entrance to the cave was visited more often. In 1860, Issac Paxton and Albert Woods decided to explore further into the cave. These two men successfully built a raft and traversed the cave with the raft for the first time in its history. 

In 1885 Penn’s Cave was opened to the public as a commercial show cavern, and Penn’s Cave hotel was built. In 1976, Penn’s Cave was included in the National Register of Historic Places as a tribute to its cultural and historical significance. The hotel hosted the guests till 1919, and from 1920 to 1929, the facilities were used to serve meals to the cavern tourists.

In 1980 the hotel became a private residence and became known as the Penn’s Cave House. A Visitor’s Center was also built, with a gift shop and a ticket center for issuing tickets for the cavern. 

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Penn’s Cave Fun Facts

  • The cave is about 30 million years old, but the limestone age within the cave is much older. 
  • The water inside the cave is around 3 to 5 ft deep.
  • It was in 1885, that Penn Cave opened its doors as a commercial show cavern. 

Geological Cave Formations in Penn’s Cave

Penn’s Cave is about 30 million years old, but the age of the limestone within the cavern is said to be much older. The cave is ornamented with limestone and mineral formations which are referred to as stalactites and stalagmites.

We all know that one cubic inch of calcite formation takes more than a hundred years to get the final shape. A unique feature of Penn’s Cave is that the stalactites and the stalagmites meet each other to form columns or pillars, and this phenomenon can be seen throughout Penn’s Cave. The tour guides have given the formations different names for easy identification, such as Buddha, Pope, and Statue of Liberty. 

Wildlife in Penn’s Cave

Penn’s Cave has a separate wildlife park, but frequent visitors to the actual cavern are the humans and bats! The most common bat species you will find inside the cavern is the Little Brown Bat, commonly found in the state. During Fall, these mammals enter the caverns and hibernate in clusters till the weather warms again. However, visitors should not be alarmed as it is hard to find them during the operating hours of the tours. 

Is Penn’s Cave Haunted?

Penn’s Cave has some frightening stories surrounding it. Several ghost hunters have explored the site since the historic location opened to the public in 1885. A popular story surrounding the cave is of a Seneca Indian maiden named Nita-nee who was in love with a French guy, Malachi Boyer. However, since they were forbidden to marry each other, they ran away.

They were captured later, and the Frenchman was thrown into the cave to die. Even today, tour guides and visitors claim that they have heard the Frenchman’s ghost crying out the name of his lost love on multiple occasions. The tour guides firmly believe that Malachi’s ghost haunts the cave. The ghost hunters have also recorded various instances of abnormal phenomena inside the cave, such as heavy breathing, female voices, strange visions, and someone speaking Native American languages. 

How Big is Penn’s Cave?

The cave measures 1300 ft in length, and the height of the cave roof is 55 ft above the surface of the stream which flows throughout the cave. 

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Penn’s Cave Tours

The most popular attraction at this cave is the water cavern, as it has a guided tour that is done entirely by boat. It is a distinctive feature of Penn’s Cave and is the only location in the country that offers this type of experience. People from all over the county come here for this amazing tour and the other tours that are on offer here. 

Cave Tour

When you sign up for this tour, you must be prepared for that incredible feeling of being in a unique setting of an all-water cave. The tour is given fully by boat, for which the visitors get a chance to take in all the beautiful sights in the cave and listen to the captivating stories told by the guides.

The tour is carried out on a flat-bottom motorboat that winds through the different passageways in the cavern and, if the weather and conditions permit, would also take you on a ride on Lake Nitanee. The motorboats can accommodate around 20 to 22 people. Forty-eight steps would lead you to the cave’s entrance, but, unfortunately, it is not handicapped accessible.

The boats are boarded at the cave entrance, and there are handrails on either side of the stairs. There is also a 300 ft paved inclined path leading to the staircase. These same stairs are used to return to the Visitors Center after the tour. 

The tour guide sits at the front and helps to guide the boat through the cave. The guide stops the boat at various locations and points out the different rock formations along the way. One should remember that the all-water cave is an active, living cave, and there will be drips of water from time to time. However, no visitors will ever become soaked as there are no big splashes.  

Penn’s Cave map

Farm Nature Wildlife Tour

It is a 90 minute guided tour by bus through the grazing pastures and mountain trails of Penn’s Cave, spread over 1600 acres. The landscape has been beautifully preserved for the birds and animals. You get a unique opportunity to see animals like Texas longhorn cattle, bison, whitetail deer, mustangs, timber wolf, etc. There is a natural butterfly garden where you get to see species like Viceroys and Monarchs. 

Penn’s Cave Tour Prices and Discounts

The prices of the different tours are as follows – 

Cave Tour 

  • Adult – USD 22.99
  • Child (ages 2 to 12) – USD 12.99
  • Senior Citizen – USD 21.99

Farm Nature Wildlife Tour

  • Adult – USD 24.99
  • Child (ages 2 to 12) – USD 15.99
  • Senior Citizen – USD 23.99

Regular Combo Package

Cavern and Farm Nature Wildlife Tours

  • Adult – USD 38.99
  • Child (ages 2 to 12) – USD 23.99
  • Senior Citizen – USD 37.99

Miners Maze

  • Adults – USD 5.99
  • Children (ages 2 to 12) – USD 2.99
  • Senior Citizen – USD 4.99
Penn’s cave Boat Ride Tour

Is Penn’s Cave Cold?

The temperature in the cave is consistent at 52 degrees F. 

What to Wear?

Since the cave temperature is constant at 52 degrees F, a sweatshirt or a jacket is highly recommended. The visitors must wear comfortable shoes also. 

Penn’s Cave Hours

Penn’s Cave and Wildlife Park remains open from 10 am to 5 pm. 

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What to Do at Penn’s Cave (Beside Tours)

Apart from the cave, the property is home to a massive wildlife park, an off-roading adventure, and a 5000 sq ft maze. The wildlife park is of particular interest to visitors who have come with their families and kids.

Several animals are housed in large enclosures, and many grazing animals come right up to the bus on which the visitors ride in. The wolves are housed in a separate enclosure that separates them from the visitors, but they still can be seen comfortably, and the wolves enjoy their habitat. The wildlife park also has a couple of mountain lions and a bobcat.

Their enclosures are smaller than those of other animals, but they will not take away the viewing pleasure. There are other things here at Penn’s Cave that will interest you. 

Miners Maze

It is a fun activity for both young and the old. The Miners Maze has a 4800 sq ft labyrinth and comes with an observation tower, plenty of twists and turns, and four checkpoint stations. It is so much fun here that you would love to get lost here. 

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Gemstone Panning

Visitors would purchase bags of pre-mixed gem sand from the gift shop. After the purchase, you can take it to Prospector Pete’s Sluice and begin your gem-panning experience. Each bag has something for everyone, like semi-precious stones and fossils. 

The Penn’s Cave Gift Shop

It is a huge gift shop housed inside the visitor’s center and has impressive gifts, gem specimens, and crystals, among other things. Kids would love the educational toys, the plush animals, and the locally sourced honey and maple syrup. 

The Cave Café

The Cave Café is inside the Visitors Center, and it specializes in Texas longhorn burgers, nachos, bottled drinks, hotdogs, candies, and fudges. 

Ultimate Guide to Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Best Time to Visit Penn’s Cave

If you want to experience the Cavern Tour, we suggest that you come here between March and November as the cavern tours take place daily. 

How to Get to Penn’s Cave

Penn’s Cave is in central Pennsylvania and 18 miles East of State College. Interstate 80 is roughly 30 minutes from the cavern. 

Hotels Near Penn’s Cave

One would come across several hotels and motels near the cave, such as Milesburg Inn, Wyndham Garden State College, and Best Western Plus University Park Inn & Suites. 

Penn’s Cave Details 

  • Length: 1300 ft
  • Time Recommended: 3 to 4 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Kid-friendly: Yes
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • Fees: Parking is free, but the tour price starts from USD 22.99
  • Hours: 10 am to 5 pm

Get our Penn’s Cave Guide (Unofficial) 

Check it out for yourself – see it HERE

Visiting Penn’s Cave

Do you need more information before visiting Penn’s Cave? Call (814) 364 – 1664 or write to their office for an information packet. 

Visiting Penn’s Cave

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