Trek at least an hour outside of Pittsburgh, then travel deep beneath the ground to discover the natural wonders of Western Pennsylvania’s caverns. Come prepared – a jacket for the cool temps (most caves maintain a year-round temperature of 52 degrees Fahrenheit), and a fully charged smartphone or camera for the spectacular photo ops. And, of course, get ready for a new adventure when you visit these six caves in Pittsburgh that are like entering another world:
1. Laurel Caverns
Adventure awaits at Laurel Caverns, an hour outside of Pittsburgh, where you can join a guided tour before really getting to experience the caverns as only climbers can. Beginners can learn how to repel down cliffs inside of the cave while more seasoned climbers can try spelunking the upper cave or the lower cave. Both repelling and spelunking require signed release forms before you can get started.
2. Coral Caverns
Embrace a once in a lifetime experience at Coral Caverns, the country's lone fossilized coral reef, located in Bedford County, just an hour and a half outside of Pittsburgh. View the stunning fossilized remains of sea creatures and coral from more than 400 million years ago. The guided tour lasts a maximum of 45 minutes.
3. Lincoln Caverns
Lace up your sturdiest shoes before you embark on the hour long tour of Lincoln Caverns and Whisper Rocks, where you'll discover the sheer beauty of the crystal caverns. Follow your guided tour with a picnic at a covered pavilion outside of the caves or pan for authentic gems. Lincoln Caverns, located in Huntington, is less than two hours from Pittsburgh.
4. Indian Caverns
Hurry! Add Indian Caverns to your list of caves to visit this summer...before it's too late. The limestone caverns, which have been a popular attraction since 1929, will permanently close at the end of 2016. The guided walking tour of the state's largest limestone cave stretches one mile. After touring the cave, try such outdoor activities as panning for gems and feeding the trout. Indian Caverns welcomes visitors on the weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Memorial Day. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the caves will be open daily.
5. Woodward Cave
Enter a whole new world – or five different rooms, such as the 200 foot long Hall of Statues, to be exact – when you go below the ground in Woodward Cave, two and a half hours from Pittsburgh in Woodward. Above ground, visit Trout Lily Meadow, a breathtaking field of wild flowers, or camp out in a rented cabin, a tent, or a RV.
6. Penn's Cave
Indulge in a day (or a weekend) of sheer natural beauty. Start with a guided boat tour of Penn's Cave then head above ground to find your way out of the Miner's Maize, to pan for gemstones, or to join a wildlife tour that will give you a close-up look at such natives as bears, mountain lions, and mustangs. Penn's Cave is approximately two and a half hours outside of Pittsburgh in Centre Hall. Tour packages are available.