Stalactites. Stalagmites. Flowstone. These aren’t the names of extraterrestrial, outer space lifeforms, but rather the names of subterranean formations underground, right here in New York. And if you are like some Long Islanders who have never left the metropolitan area, you would not know that upstate New York is riddled with underground caves like the ones at Howe Caverns.
Accidentally founded by a farmer named Lester Howe in 1842, Howe Caverns is now one of the most popular attractions upstate. It’s more than six million years old, a living limestone cave being carved by an underground river, and is still actively forming.
Touring Options At Howe Caverns:
Travel more than 150 feet below the earth’s surface to explore Howe Caverns’ magnificent limestone formations, stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone. In this 90-minute walking tour on paved walkways, you will learn how Lester Howe first discovered the cave and about his early exploration and tours of the cave. On this guided tour you will be taken down to the cave entrance by elevator and led through the limestone formations, through the huge main cavern and on an amazing adventure through areas of the caves with names like The River Styx, The Sentinels, Titan’s Temple and The Giant Formation. See The Wedding Chapel and even take a chance at the wedding superstitions associated with this unique nuptial platform.
This two-hour partially guided tour runs on Fridays and Saturdays, by reservation and only for ages 16 and older.
Take this tour to experience the caverns as Lester Howe and his guests did in the 1800s. On this curious underground adventure, you will tour the lit caverns as you travel inside the caves. Board a boat and travel down the Lake of Venus before returning to the boat platform and return to the cavern entrance with nothing but the light of your candle lantern to guide your way.
Take a two-hour family tour with flashlights and headlamps (for the kids). Reservations are required for this Sunday night tour. Similar to the lantern tour, minus the open flame, this flashlight tour and the traditional tour are suitable for the whole family (ages 5 and older). It’s fun for everyone to experience the unlit caverns as Lester Howe did more than 100 years ago.
Howe High Adventure
Seasonally, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, check out Howe High Adventure Park. Take Howe’s above-ground adventure…zipping, climbing, jumping and rolling through the obstacle course, adjacent to the main cavern house. Take a tumble down the estate hill in an H2O 12-foot tall water ball, whoosh through the 900-foot zip line, try your tightrope walking skills across the ropes course, scale a 26-foot rock wall and take to the air jumper and bounce up to 18 feet in the air. The adventure park is weather permitting. Admission is available by full day pass for full access, or single ride tickets.
Also check out Howe Caverns Gemstone Mining. Try your hand at sluicing, sifting for mineral treasures or buy a geode at the Rock Shop and have it sawed in half to reveal the crystal treasure awaiting inside.
Howe Caverns, located approximately 3½ hours upstate, at 255 Discovery Dr., Howes Cave, NY, is open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas days. Check their website for seasonal hours. Traditional tour prices are: $25 (adults), $21 (juniors ages 12-15), $13 (children 5-11), free for kids 4 and under and $22 for seniors (65 and older). Check out Howe Caverns’ website or call 518-296-8900 for more information and other local attraction suggestions.
Whether you are an amateur or professional spelunker, or simply looking to explore one of the natural wonders of New York, Howe Caverns should be your next nearby staycation.
Can’t get enough? Click here to find more upstate caves and adventures.