When we visited Dorney Park last weekend, I needed to have a back-up plan in case it rained. Especially with three kids in tow. The disappointment of doing nothing might have been too much. We ended up lucking out with the weather, but stopped at one of my back-up plans along the way home anyway.
The Lost River Caverns, in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, is very easy to find and worth a quick stop. Educational, fun, and photo ops all rolled into one. Madeline and Nick’s friend had never been here before. The Ex and I took Nick years ago (I think he was four years old), but he doesn’t remember it at all, so first time wonderment for all.
A small parking lot in front of the building, and a larger parking lot across the street, there is ample space. Picnic areas and a small covered bridge across the street mean you can stay and enjoy some free time long after your tour has ended. The caverns are open year ’round, closing only for three days (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years).
We ended up arriving just as a tour was departing, which meant we didn’t have to wait at all. And since waiting means waiting in the gift shop area, this Mom was happy about that. Year ’round, the cavern temperature is 52 degrees, no matter if it’s the height of summer or the dead of winter. It was particularly steamy on the day that we visited, so 52 degrees felt absolutely perfect to me.
The tour groups are about twenty people, and you are led by a guide the entire time (about 45 minutes). Our guide was young, but very well-informed. It turns out that she was actually baptized in the caverns (at the spot pictured below with the cross). For many years, weddings were actually held deep in the caverns as well, and it was also a popular spot for square dancing, with even an area for horses to wait. It was a beloved spot for square dancing because of the cool temperatures and the reverberation underground. With many areas being slightly cramped when our tour group was down there, I can’t even imagine a group of ladies and gentlemen square dancing down there, but somehow they made it work.
The caverns are so named because there is a “lost river” in the middle of it, water coming in and exiting, yet they haven’t been able to determine where the water leads to when it exits the caverns. Two tests were done to try and find out where the water ends up. One time, they dumped a mass of colored golf balls into the river, with their telephone number on it, waiting to see where the balls ended up and to receive phone calls of people finding them. Nothing. Another time, they poured a non-toxic red dye into the water. Again, expecting news of nearby water suddenly turning red. Again, nothing. The mystery continues.
Once the tour is done, you end up at the gift shop (just no escaping it!). It was pure nirvana for Nick, as they had a huge selection of rocks, minerals, and other gemstones available, something he has been collecting for years. Both kids armed with a $10 limit, they chose treasures that they couldn’t live without.
Wear sturdy, but comfortable shoes (a bit of steep climbing and sometimes a wet cavern floor), and bring a sweater, just in case you find it’s too chilly once you’re underground. The kids loved the cavern visit, and if you’re in the area, or looking for a fun day trip, it’s worth a stop.
Lost River Caverns
726 Durham Street
Hellertown, PA 18055
Hungry for another Pennsylvania activity?
Our trip to the trout hatchery was definitely a highlight.