Lost River Cave, the underground cave boat tour in Kentucky

by | Last updated Apr 11, 2024

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 426 miles of known passageways.

lost river cave
Entrance to underground cave at Lost River Cave in Bowling Green

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. You don’t want to come out with a bruise on your forehead!

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.

inside lost river cave boat tour
The clear water is 4-5 ft deep within the cave and the cave formations are beautiful

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. It’s a pretty quick but you get to learn so much.

lost river cave inside the back
The cave is dammed near the back to allow enough water for cave tours to happen

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.

Lost River Cave Underground Boat Tour

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:

Video I took on our Lost River Cave Boat tour trip

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.

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1 Comment

  1. Steve F.

    One of the best things to do in Bowling Green. Who doesn’t want to go inside a cave on a boat? Make sure to watch your head though, you might come out with a bruise.


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Trey Copeland

Trey Copeland

Founder & Editor

Hello folks! I’m Trey Copeland, founder and editor of Stay Bluegrass, along with my wife Kaci. We’ve been fortunate to travel to many countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica, but our true roots remain here in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Bluegrass State.

Our goal is to help you live like a local while traveling and exploring the great state of Kentucky. We want to help you find the best places to eat, the must see and do attractions and more.

Hey! I'm Trey

Hey! I'm Trey

I live in Owensboro, Kentucky and have traveled around the Bluegrass state with my wife Kaci.

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