The Backstories of Hidden River Cave

Hidden River Cave has been the center of outdoor adventure in Horse Cave for decades.  The town literally grew up around it.  The community and the cave have a tight connection and there’s a lot of back story to be told. You seem like our kind of person so maybe we can share a thing or two with you.

Backstory NUMBER ONE is that Hidden River Cave is literally completely hidden from view in one of the most unusual ways. The town of Horse Cave grew up around it.  You don’t even realize a cave is in the middle of town until you happen down Main Street and realize that you are walking right over the mouth of the cave itself. The town of Horse Cave has also created an above ground trail that traces the path of the cave below just so you can get your mind around this totally unique place. There is also the Horse Cave Stories Cell Phone Walking Tour that winds its way through town, sharing more history about the town that grew up around the cave.

Backstory NUMBER TWO is that John Muir included Hidden River Cave in his “Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf.” He wrote this about it in 1867, “It seems like a noble gateway to the birthplace of springs and fountains and the dark treasuries of the mineral kingdom. This cave is in a village which it supplies with an abundance of cold water, and cold air that issues from its fern-clad lips. In hot weather crowds of people sit about it in the shade of the trees that guard it. This magnificent fan is  capable of cooling everybody in the town at once.” Muir understood the secret of the village which grew up around a cave.

Backstory NUMBER THREE is that Hidden River Cave is home to the LONGEST UNDERGROUND SWINGING BRIDGE in the world!  It is over 100 feet long. Pictured above, this bridge was completed and is a step toward the next secret!  Photo of bridge by Bowling Green Daily News.

Backstory NUMBER FOUR is Sunset Dome, which is one of the largest cave rooms in the nation.  It measure 200 feet long, 150 feet wide and over 100 feet tall.  Because of the swinging bridge, tours will resume to the dome this year for the first time since 1940.  Stories are shared that Major League Baseball players would enter the dome to see if anyone could throw a baseball that would hit the ceiling.  After being not accessible to the public for over seventy years, Sunset Dome is once again on the tour. Dome photo above by Matt McClintock.

Backstory NUMBER FIVE is that Hidden River Cave also offers an off-trail option for those who come.  That’s right, you can grab a helmet, pull on some gloves and knee pads and crawl through the tunnels and probably a bit of mud!  Remember there is a rushing river in the cave.

Backstory NUMBER SIX is all in the ropes.  Believe it or not, Hidden River Cave also offers you the opportunity to rappel down the mouth of the cave.  You could also take a short zip through the tree canopy around the cave as well.  Call ahead, 270-786-1466, to reserve your spot on the ropes.

And backstory NUMBER SEVEN is that Hidden River Cave is also home to the American Cave Museum.  That’s right, the cave museum for the nation is located there for all of you who love cave and karst.  Come geek out with tons of information on geology and all the hows and whys of cave formation and health.