Ohio is famous for buckeye trees, corn production, football, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and Cedar Point. So many people may not know about the amazing and abundant caves in Ohio!
The numerous caves have been formed in various ways. But many of them were formed naturally from running water and wind erosion over thousands of years.
Rich in culture, history, and scenery, we’ve assembled a list of 10 of the best caverns in Ohio for you to visit. Read on to learn more about these fascinating feats of nature!
Mary Campbell Cave | Cuyahoga Falls, OH
This cave, located within Gorge Metropolitan Park, is one of the most visited caverns in Ohio. It was carved out about 12,000 years ago by the Cuyahoga River.
Originally called Old Maid’s Kitchen, the cave was renamed later after Pennsylvania settler Mary Campbell. She was held captive inside the cave by the Lenape Tribe for seven years.
The cavern is about 131 feet wide and tall enough to stand in. It’s easily accessible via Gorge Trail, a half-mile hike from the parking lot. Trails within Gorge Metro Park, located at 1160 Front St., are open daily from 6 a.m. to sunset.
Seneca Caverns | Bellevue, OH
Seneca Caverns is a registered natural landmark that features one of the Ohio caves’ largest explorable underground areas.
You can explore the caverns via a one-hour guided tour that features naturally created rock steps and pathways and an underground flowing stream, “Ole Mist’ry River,” that’s part of a much larger network of groundwater.
Above-ground activities include a shaded picnic area, a gift shop, and a fully-functional sluice used to pan for gemstones, arrowheads, and fossils. The caverns remain a cool 54 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, but tours are only available from May through October.
Ohio Caverns | West Liberty, OH
These are the largest of the caves in Ohio, with over 2 miles of passageways. The caves feature a variety of formations and colors, including stalactites and stalagmites.
One of the caverns, accurately named Crystal King’s Cave, features one of the biggest stalactites in the world. It’s approximately 400 pounds, 5 feet long, and estimated to be more than 200,000 years old!
The caverns are available to explore by guided tours and are open year-round. Despite any inclement weather outside these caves in Ohio, they stay a temperate 54 degrees Fahrenheit.
Several tours are available, including the Winter Tour (Oct 1-April 30), the Natural Wonder Tour, the Historic Tour, and the Limestone Tour, the last of which is wheelchair accessible. You can visit the Ohio Caverns at 2210 East State Route 245, West Liberty, Ohio 43357.
Crystal Cave | Put-In-Bay, OH
You can walk inside and explore the world’s largest celestite geode here! Crystal Cave is estimated to be 12,000 to 15,000 years old and sits almost 40 feet below ground. The humongous geode features celestine crystals up to 3 feet wide and between 8 and 18 inches long.
The cave was discovered in 1897 by miners digging a well for a winery; the accompanying Heineman Winery is still in operation today. The cave was originally used to harvest crystals sold for fireworks manufacturing.
Tours of the cave are available from May through September. You can visit Crystal Cave and Heineman Winery on South Bass Island at 978 Catawba Ave.
Olentangy Caverns | Delaware, OH
These Ohio caves were formed millions of years ago when an underground river sliced through limestone. They’ve been used by the Wyandot Tribe and by European settlers. Within the “Council Chamber,” researchers found artifacts used to craft arrows and other stone tools, some of which are on display at the museum.
There are still miles of unexplored passages within the Olentangy Caverns, at 105 feet and lower beneath the surface. This includes an underground lake, whose exact size is not yet deciphered. The lake and other unexplored passages aren’t open to the public.
All cavern tours are self-guided, and multiple stations with audio recordings and written information detail the area’s history. Other family-friendly activities include gem mining, mini golf, a treasure hunt maze, and a petting zoo. You can visit Olentangy at 1779 Home Rd.
Perry’s Cave | Put-In-Bay, OH
A short distance from South Bass Island’s Crystal Cave is Perry’s Cave, a registered Ohio natural landmark and a great location for families to visit. The natural limestone cave was discovered in 1813 by Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry.
Perry’s Cave sits 52 feet beneath a gift shop and features an underground lake, stalactites, stalagmites, and cave pearls caused by hundreds of years of water dripping from the ceiling. The cavern is a good size to explore, at 208 feet long and 165 feet wide.
Family-friendly, above-ground attractions include a butterfly house, rock climbing, mini golf, an antique car museum, gemstone mining, and a maze. Perry’s Cave is located at 979 Catawba Ave.
Old Man’s Cave | Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH
Hocking Hills State Park is home to several of the most amazing caverns in Ohio, along with beautiful scenery, abundant hiking trails, waterfalls, and rock formations. That’s why it’s one of the best spring things to do in Ohio.
In the park, a stunning, half-mile gorge cuts through 150 feet of Black Hand Sandstone that makes up Old Man’s Cave, one of the most popular caves in Ohio. Its namesake is from hermit Richard Rowe, who lived in a recess cave of the gorge beginning in the late 1790s.
An eerily cool fact — Rowe is said to be buried under a ledge at the main recess cave.
If you’re an avid hiker, you can continue exploring from Old Man’s Cave on the Grandma Gatewood Trail, a 6-mile loop that passes through Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. The area is perfect for a multi-day family trip, with cottages and a campground available close by.
Rock House | Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH
So much culture surrounds Rock House, a 200-foot-long, channel-like cave with “window” openings and columns that support its “roof.” The “house” was naturally created over time by erosion from water.
It has been one of the most visited caves in Ohio since at least 1835 when a 16-room hotel was built. Today, the same spot hosts a picnic area.
The history of Rock House is diverse. It was used not only by Native Americans for shelter, cooking, and water collection, but also (supposedly) by horse thieves, robbers, bootleggers, and other criminals, which led to it being called Robbers Roost.
From the Rock House parking lot, Rock House Trail is a short, less than 1-mile loop of moderate difficulty. The best time of year to visit is April through October.
Ash Cave | Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH
You can’t visit the Hocking Region without visiting Ash Cave, one of the most astounding recess caves in Ohio. The horseshoe-shaped cavern is 700 feet long, 100 feet deep, and 90 feet tall at the rim, and it features a runoff waterfall.
Ash Cave was named by early settlers who found many piles of ashes here, the largest of which was 100 feet long by 30 feet wide.
The short trail to the cave has restrooms and is wheelchair accessible. Tables near the parking lot are perfect for family picnics. Aside from hiking a short distance to the cave, visitors have access to the Grandma Gatewood Trail.
Saltpetre Cave | Rockbridge, OH
Expect to have peaceful solitude at this permit-only, 14-acre site that features multiple Ohio caves, small pools, blanketing hemlocks and fern, birch and tulip trees, wildlife, and excellent bird-watching.
The Saltpetre Cave State Nature Preserve is named because of the abundant potassium nitrate, or saltpeter, deposits found within the cave ceilings. Saltpeter is commonly used in explosives.
The Saltpetre Cave can only be visited after obtaining an Access Permit from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources at least 2 weeks in advance of your visit. You can apply for the permit online.
Frequently Asked Questions About Caves in Ohio
Are the caves safe to visit year-round?
Most caves in Ohio remain a constant temperature regardless of outside weather. However, when you’re looking for caverns near me in Ohio, not all are open during cold and rainy months.
Summer and fall are often recommended as the best times to visit. Of those listed here, Perry’s Cave, Ohio Caverns, and the caves within Hocking Hills State Park are accessible all year during operating hours.
Are Ohio caves wheelchair accessible?
Ash Cave and the Ohio Caverns’ Limestone Tour are wheelchair accessible.
Do the caves require a permit for entry?
Of the caves listed above, only the Saltpetre Cave requires an access permit, which you must obtain 14 days in advance.
What kind of clothing is appropriate to visit the caverns in Ohio?
Since the temperature of most Ohio caves is around 54 degrees Fahrenheit, you should wear a light jacket, pants, and sneakers or hiking boots with non-slip soles for your cavern visits.