Lost River Cave is a 72 acre park right in the middle of Bowling Green that features a natural cave, hiking trails, river, beautiful rock formations and more. There is a 20 acre prairie that is currently being restored to its natural state including native grasses and flowers to promote natural habitat for our local wildlife.
Living in Kentucky, we’ve seen our fair share of caves, rivers and sink holes. We live on one of the largest karst systems and close to the nearby Mammoth Cave, the worlds longest cave system with 405 miles of passageways.
If you have a scheduled boat tour, then I suggest you get to Lost River Cave at least 20 minutes early to check in and walk down to the cave. The tour is typically on time and they will begin the tour without you. We were a couple minutes behind and they had already began the tour telling the history of the cave.
Speaking of cave history, this cave is about 700,000 years old and has been used for many different purposes over the years. Jesse James even hid out in the cave while on the run from his Russellville Kentucky bank robbery.
The cave was used by Native Americans in the 1700s for shelter and water. It was also used as a popular night club in the 1900s. A mill was built on site to generate electricity for lights in the club at the cave entrance.
The underground boat tour is a 45 minute tour where you follow along with a guide that provides a history lesson of the cave before entering. They are very knowledgeable about the cave and provide a lot of interesting facts.
The first 20 minutes is the walk along the rivers edge telling about Kentucky’s limestone formations and cave history. The massive entrance to the cave is where you will board the large flat bottom boat underground and take the rest of the 25 minutes to float in the 4-5 foot deep water exploring the natural formations of the cave.
If you have infants and children, you must wear the provided life jackets while on the boat.
Once your loaded on the boat, the tour begins.
The first formation you come to is a large limestone rock right above your head. You actually have to duck your head really far down, otherwise your head will hit it. It’s actually very dangerous and people hit their head often.
Once you’ve passed the large overhead rock, you can sit up and the tour guide shines a flashlight at all the different stalactites and formations. They have named many of them. Some look like a hot dog and some look like a dinosaur t-rex.
At the back of the cave, the park has dammed it so that the tours can happen. If they did not dam the cave, then the water level would be too low for tours to happen.
This is where the boat parks for a few minutes to let you see the back of the cave and then it turns around and heads back out.
The Lost River Cave park has many other things to do besides the boat including a butterfly habitat where you can see all different species such as the Monarch, Painted Lady and the Red Admiral.
There’s a two mile nature trail that offers a gorgeous hike along the park. You can see Civil War history houses, blue holes and a natural spring. There are plenty of photo taking opportunities on the walk. During the Fall season, they host a Scarecrow Walk where different sponsors and local companies decorate scarecrows.
The Gem Mining is always a favorite with the kids. You can also visit the gift shop before you leave and pick up a wide variety of Lost River apparel that helps support the mission of the organization.
Below is a video of Lost River Cave underground boat tour that I filmed on our visit:
Lost River Cave contact information and pricing
2818 Nashville Road Bowling Green, KY 42101
Cost – $23.95 for adults, $16.95 for youth, $5.95 for 3 and under
Open 7 days a week
For more information visit https://www.lostrivercave.org/
Tips for visiting Lost River Cave
- The cave is a steady 57 degrees, so bring a light jacket if you get cold easily.
- No pets are allowed on the boat, so leave them at home.
- Tours sell out quickly, so either book online or get there early to purchase tickets.
- If there has been a lot of rain in the area, the boat tour could be cancelled due to water level so check before you leave.
- The hiking trails are free to explore, so if you miss a boat tour, you can still get out and stretch your legs.
We also have lots of other things to do in Bowling Green, so make sure to check out our guide.
Share this on Pinterest!