Wisconsin April 19, 2018
The Unique Wisconsin Cave System You’ll Want To Explore
If you love getting underground and exploring, you’re going to love Ledge View Caves. You can’t be afraid to get dirty, but if you don’t mind a bit of spelunking, the reward is so very worth it.
A part of a Calumet County Park, Ledge View Nature Center is located midway between Green Bay and Milwaukee, just south of Chilton. In addition to the totally unique and awesome caves, you’ll find “105 acres of wooded ledges and open prairie include hiking trails, a 60-foot observation tower offering expansive countryside views, and a nature center staffed full-time by county naturalist assistants. In addition, visitors can enjoy an arboretum; interactive exhibits on bats, lake sturgeon, birds, and the Niagara Escarpment; and check out the flowers in the rain, butterfly, and hummingbird gardens.”
The caves at Ledge View are not easy to access - this is definitely a step above beginner cave exploration. The caves are only viewable as part of a tour and you must make reservations. The only access to the caves is on a naturalist-guided tour during a scheduled visit. Cave tours include information on the geology, biology, and human history of the caves.
The Carolyn's Cavern Walking Tour is the easier of the two tour options. You need to be able to go up and down ladders, but crawling is optional. This one is for kids over 5 years old who are accompanied by a parent. It's $8 per person. The tour begins at 1 pm and takes place every Saturday and Sunday from May to November.
The Adventure Cave Tour is much intense. It takes you into Carolyn's & Mother's Cave. Mother's Cave is all crawling and physically challenging, you will need to fit through a box in the nature center to test the size of parts of the cave. This one is for kids over 8 years old who are accompanied by a parent. It's $10 per person. This one is available on a more limited basis. The tour begins at 9 am and takes place two Sundays a month from June to October.
You will get dirty on these tours, so wear some clothes you don't mind getting a little messy. It's very wet inside the cave, making the ground messy and as you crawl, you'll get dirty. Your feet and the bottoms of your pants will be in mud puddles.
The caves are natural holes in dolomitic limestone bedrock that were formed first by groundwater, then additionally by meltwater from the Wisconsinan glacier thousands of years ago. A lot of sediment came in with the meltwater, too, and some of it is still here. These caves are quite old and carry a lot of history.
The tours are safe and led by Nature Center staff, but they aren't a walk in the park.
Ledge View has two main cave systems called Carolyn's Caverns and Montgomery Cave. Carolyn's Caverns includes Mothers Cave, Bat Room, Dave's Sink, Kieth's Karst, and Wayne's World. Some of the more recent discoveries unearthed by The Wisconsin Speleological Society in Carolyn's Caverns are the connection of Wayne's World to the Bat Room, Wishing Well, Temptation Alley, Sliver Passage and Thunder Dome . There are seven crawl passages, drip formations, and glacial melt water features. These caves are continuously excavated by the Wisconsin Speleological Society, so things can change every year.
One big thing you want to remember is to bring a flashlight! Tours last about two hours. There is no electrical lighting in the caves and it's not paved. The ground is uneven and wet, so make sure you dress accordingly.
In addition to the caves, there's plenty to see and explore on the ground of the Nature Center and park. Make sure you leave time for hikes and time in the Nature Center itself. A trip here is super interesting and definitely a great learning experience for you and your family.
LedgeView Nature Center is located at
W2348 Short Road, Chilton, WI 53014.
If you want to know more about the Nature Center or the caves,
check out their website.
Looking for more unique Wisconsin caves and canyons? Check out
7 Places In Wisconsin That’ll Make You Wish You Lived Underground.