Category Archives: Cave

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Valley
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Uninhabited beach, scenic views, birding
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per person per night
Additional considerations: Permits limited to 60 people per night and they sell out months in advance, feral goats but no chickens
Description: The trail to Kalalau is hell, but the place itself is paradise—the most beautiful place in all the Hawaiian Islands. Two nights is the minimum amount of time we would recommend staying.

Lost Sea Adventure Cave

Lost Sea Adventure Cave
Location: Sweetwater, Tennessee
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Underground lake, cave formations, rainbow trout
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $19 per adult for cave tour
Additional considerations: Steep trail drops 140-feet down to lake
Description: This unique tour combines a walking cave tour with a boat ride in an underground lake with huge rainbow trout that are fed on every tour. Crystal clusters called “anthodites” are rare in nature but common in this cave.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Location: meeting of Kentucky-Virginia-Tennessee
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Hiking, cave tour, historic trails
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Poison-ivy, steep road to overlooks
Description: Natives used this low pass through the mountains for centuries before Daniel Boone first led American settlers into Kentucky in 1776. There was limited space on the once daily cave tour so we did not get a chance to see it, but maybe next time.

Delaware Water Gap

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area
Location: Pennsylvania-New Jersey border
Length of visit: 2 hours to full day
Major draws: Waterfalls, floating river
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Visitor centers open seasonally
Description: We enjoyed hiking to two waterfalls that feed into the Delaware River that forms the border of Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park
Location: Mount Desert Island, Maine
Length of visit: full day to multiple days
Major draws: Lighthouses, wildlife, trails
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $25 per vehicle or free with America the Beautiful pass
Additional considerations: Parking difficult to impossible on weekends
Description: We met Tiff’s parents up here and had fun birdwatching, climbing the ladders on Precipice Trail, attending a star party, and listening to rocks tumble on the cobblestone beaches.

Hopewell Rocks

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park
Location: Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada
Length of visit: at least 6 hours
Major draws: Flowerpot rock formations, greatest tidal change in the world
Strenuosity: 3 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $10 per adult for two-day pass
Additional considerations: Check tide tables before you visit
Description: We are breaking our rule of not including foreign country posts for this incredible site just north of Maine. We thought it might get boring watching the tide come in over 6 hours, but we never cracked our books. See 45-minutes of action here:

Smugglers’ Notch State Park

Smugglers’ Notch State Park
Location: Stowe, Vermont
Length of visit: 1 hour to full day
Major draws: Scenic views, trails, talus caves
Strenuosity: 0 to 5 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Trails steep and slippery (so is the road)
Description: A steep and narrow road leads to a mountain pass near the Canadian border where alcohol was hidden during Prohibition. Stowe, Vermont also had an interesting Catholic Church with murals painted on the exterior.

Eternal Flame Trail

Eternal Flame Trail—Chestnut Ridge Park
Location: east of Buffalo, New York
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Fire and water
Strenuosity: 4 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Multiple stream crossings on trail
Description: You’ve never seen anything like this waterfall—a continuous flame is fed by natural gas that leaks out of the rocks behind a veil of water. Access by steep half-mile trail into canyon.

Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds
Location: Niagara Falls, New York
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: See and feel the waterfall, free sandals
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10 (mostly handicap accessible)
Cost/Fees: $17 per adult
Additional considerations: You might get wet even under a poncho
Description: The cave area is no longer accessible due to safety concerns, but you can still feel the power of Bridal Veil Falls on the wooden platforms that have to be rebuilt after every winter.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Location: Lake Superior on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula
Length of visit: half day to multiple days
Major draws: Kayaking, colorful cliffs, arches, waterfalls
Strenuosity: 7 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Beach launch required for kayaks, large waves even without wind
Description: The only way to go through Petit Portal is by kayaking 4 miles one-way from Miner’s Beach. Don’t forget to wave to the people on the tour boats who can’t get very close to shore.