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5 Best Caves to Visit in West Virginia

By | Last Updated: 26th June 2023

Nicknamed the ‘Mountain State,’ because of its rocky terrain, West Virginia has many scenic wonders to explore, from peaks to valleys, lakes to waterfalls. Among these, there are also many caves with awe-inspiring formations. Whether you choose a guided tour or a self-guided one, the stunning views of the stalagmites and stalactites inside will leave you spellbound. As they maintain a cool temperature, wear a light jacket or sweater and sturdy shoes to avoid the slippery paths.

Caves in West Virginia

1. Lost World Caverns

Lost World Caverns in West Virginia

Discovered in 1942, Lost World Caverns is an enchanted place to explore. Descending the concrete and wooden stairs will lead you to the stalagmites and stalactites. Some of the notable ones include the Bridal Veil, the Snowy Chandelier, and the War Club. Visitors often opt for the 45-minute self-guided tour and witness the magnificent formations inside by paying a $12 entry fee. Make sure to follow the information signs as you move along so that you cover everything inside.

Those who crave more adventure, wishing to get to the deepest and darkest sections of the cave, can opt for the four-hour Wild Cave Tour, costing $79 on average. With a guide’s assistance, you’ll be able to get into the narrow passageways and see more stunning rock formations. As the cave maintains a temperature of 52°F, it is advisable to wear a light jacket.

You may have to crawl in the muddy areas and even climb certain portions, especially if you have chosen the guided tour. Long pants and hiking boots would come in handy for such a challenging expedition.

Things to do around here: The Visitor Center and Natural History Museum features the collection and remains of many prehistoric creatures, like dinosaurs and a cave bear. In addition, gemstone mining and picnicking are other activities to enjoy here.

Hours of operation – 9 am to 5pm (on regular days)

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2. Organ Cave

Organ Cave in West Virginia

Located within Greenbrier County, this ancient natural cave has many prehistoric fossils and historical wonders to offer. The first Prehistoric three-toed sloth was discovered here in the late 1700s. With 45 miles of mapped passageways, it is the second-longest commercial cave in the Eastern U.S. Some bats also shelter in the dark corners of this cave.

Guided walking tours are available year round, where visitors are taken to all sections of the cave and even enlightened about the cave’s ecology and its significance in the Civil War. The adventure seekers can take a step further to go spelunking into the cave’s depths with the guide’s help to discover other natural wonders. 

Things to do around here: You can explore the Greenbrier Valley located about an hour away from the cave for further sightseeing.

Hours of operation – 10 am to 4 pm

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3. Seneca Caverns

Seneca Caverns in West Virginia

Seneca Caverns earn their name from the Seneca Indians who used them for shelter and storage in the early 1400s. These unique wonders, created by the gradual settling of limestone formations for more than 450 million years, often leave visitors spellbound. It is accessible only on guided tours that cost $10 for kids and about $15 for adults. An hour’s exploration on the 1-mile trail that descends 165 feet below the ground level will make you witness the gorgeous flowstone, stalagmite, and stalactite features. Even in the hotter months, the cave maintains a temperature of about 54°F. Hence, don’t forget to put on warmer clothes. 

Things to do around here: Many enjoy hiking and rock climbing the Seneca Rocks to get breathtaking views. Moreover, there are swings near the cave to keep children busy while waiting for their turn to go inside. If hungry, you’ll find an adjoining restaurant also.

Hours of operation – 10 am to 5 pm

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4. Smokehole Caverns

Smokehole Caverns in West Virginia

Smokehole Caverns served the early settlers for a long time. The Seneca Indians used the front portion to burn firewood for smoking wild game meats. As the smoke often escaped the place to the nearby valleys, many called it Smoke Hole. Apart from the ancient tribes, the Civil War immigrants used the cave to make corn whiskey by drawing water from the artesian well lying within. 

The caverns feature a pool with trout swimming in it and many beautiful mineral formations that you can see while touring with a guide. The glittering Room of Million Stalactites is another main attraction having the second-highest cave ceiling in the eastern part of the U.S. The temperature inside is 56°F, making it a pleasant visit all year round. Wear sturdy shoes and a sweater. Also, you will have to spend about $15 per adult and $10 per child for guided tours spanning about 45 minutes.

Things to do around here: Gemstone mining is a sought-after activity here, mainly from 1st April to 31st October. You can head to the Smoke Hole Log Cabin Resort for dining and accommodation facilities situated 2 miles away from the cavern.

Hours of operation – 10:00 am to 4 pm

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5. Hamilton Cave

Hamilton Cave in West Virginia

Hamilton Cave is a part of The John Guilday Caves Nature Preserve property. It holds historical importance since it was a saltpeter site in the 18th century, also having several prehistoric fossil evidence. In addition, it is also a hibernating spot for the rare Indiana Myotis Bats and Virginia Long-Eared Bats. The 4.7 mile-long cave consists of a network of interconnected passages. You will have fun crawling and hiking through the tube to see the interiors, the end portion of which is more rewarding. Do not forget to wear kneepads and a helmet. Also, carry a map with you to avoid confusion.

Things to do around here: You could also explore the New Trout Cave situate in the same preserve property as the Hamilton cave, open throughout the year. However, another cave situated here, the Trout Cave, remains closed as the Virginia Big Ear Bat and Indiana Bat inhabit it during summer and winter.

Hours of operation – 24 hours

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