When talking about caves, New Hampshire may be mainly known for Polar Caves and Lost River Gorge and Boulder Caves. However, the Granite State features about 200 documented caves. The number only increases every year as new ones continue being discovered. In fact, Pawtuckaway State Park alone is home to more than 30 of them.
Exploring the caves of New Hampshire calls for an adventurous time for adults and children alike. You can easily access the large ones by a comfortable walk through the well-lit interiors. On the other hand, the small hole-like entrances and tight passageways require crawling and squeezing through them. Big or small, all these caves are sure to provide you with a fun experience once you visit them.
Polar Caves Park in Rumney within White Mountains region offers an enjoyable experience to explore its nine boulder caves and mazes. They are named such due to the cold air currents flowing from the passageways. These glacially formed caves are connected by a set of boardwalks with directional signs to guide you. Moreover, each has funny and eye-catching names like Chicken’s Walk, Devil’s Turnpike, and Lemon Squeeze. Some require going through narrow openings and rock stairs to access them. Once inside, you’ll find interesting factual signs to give you an insight into them. As there are lights all along, it won’t be a problem to read them or find your way through the passages.
Things to do around here: After exploring all the caves, indulging in gem mining with your kids at Baker River Mining Sluice would be ideal. There’s also an animal park which you can visit to see the various species, including ducks and deer.
Hours of operation: 10 am to 4pm (mid-May to Mid- October)
Hiking along the 1-mile wooden boardwalk trail along the Lost River will make you witness 11 boulder caves that are fun to explore. The Cave of the Lost Souls is the most interesting and stunning one with a continuous series of rooms.
While you can comfortably walk through some of the caves, others like Cave of Silence, Bear Crawl, and Lemon Squeezer require crawling or squeezing to get past the narrow passages. The larger caves are lit with oil lamps to guide you through the dark interiors. Bear Crawl also has a gorgeous waterfall inside it.
Your adventure does not stop here, as you can hike up to the viewing platform of Giant Bird’s Nest to get an expansive view of the Lost River and Kinsman Notch. All along the way, you will be treated with massive boulders and jagged rock walls.
There’s an entry ticket of $ 22 per person that you will have to purchase in advance.
Things to do around here: You can enjoy gem mining at Lost River Mining Sluice. Moreover, you can hike along the Forest Adventure Trail or climb up the suspension bridge.
Hours of operation: 9 am to 5 pm (early May to mid-October)
Bear Cave sits at the Flume Gorge within Franconia Notch State Park. You can reach it by hiking the 2-mile loop trail. It’s a small cave that requires only a minute or two to explore, but visitors of all ages will surely enjoy the short trip. As you tread along the trail after visiting it, you will come across Wolf’s Den, which needs to be entered by crawling through the narrow paths.
Other points of interest in this area include the Flume Gorge, waterfalls, rock formations, a historic covered bridge, and the surroundings covered in mosses and ferns.
There’s an entry fee for non-residential visitors of $ 5 per adult and $ 3 per youth between the age group 6 and 13.
Things to do around here: The state park also offers other scenic trails to explore and various natural wonders to admire. You can also hop into the aerial tramway to take in the views of the top of Cannon Mountain. Other activities to have a fun time here include fishing, rock climbing, bird watching, picnicking, nature gazing, and camping.
Hours of operation: 24 hours
Devil’s Den Cave is a little boulder cave in Pawtuckaway State Park which you can access by a 2-mile trail. It is a little tricky to find it as its entrance is not bigger than a crawlspace. You will have to squeeze into the tight rooms and narrow paths inside to explore it with the help of your flashlights. There’s a ladder at the exit point to help you climb out.
Things to do around here: This place is also an excellent birdwatching spot. You can continue hiking the trail to head to the summit of Mt. Molly to soak in the surrounding views.
Hours of operation: 8 am to 7 pm
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