People everywhere are strongly attracted by the mysteriousness of the caves, and New York caves are very popular tourist attractions. Some no longer exist, like the Cave of the Winds, while others, like Clarksville Cave, are very difficult to explore. One of the most interesting and the most popular is Howe Caverns, which has a number of tours and is even used for weddings. Some caves, such as Ellenville Fault Ice Caves, are formed by the fallen debris from the surrounding fault. Some caves are manmade, like the Lockport Caves, but are no less fascinating and attractive.
1. Cave of the Winds, New York
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The Cave of the Winds used to be a cave in the rock behind Bridal Veil Falls at the Niagara Falls. The cave, 130 feet high, 100 feet wide, and 30 feet deep, was closed after a massive rock fall. A visit to the cave had been a popular tourist attraction since 1841. After the closure, it continued from 1924 in a different form, bringing visitors to the spot close to where the cave existed, as close to the waterfalls as anyone can get. The visitors come via an elevator from the area roughly between the American and Canadian Falls, descending down to the Niagara River level at the very base of the American Falls. They walk along a series of wooden decks and platforms until they reach the base of the Bridal Veil Falls, close to where the original Cave of the Wind was. It is quite an experience with the water falling all around them, ending under the decking, and is not for the faint of heart.
Niagara Falls, NY 14303, USA, Tel. +1 716-278-1796
2. Ellenville Fault, New York
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The Ellenville Fault Ice Caves are located in the 4,600-acre Sam's Point Preserve on the 2,289-foot-high Shawangunk Ridge in New York. It is the largest open fault in the States, with a series of ice caves that were formed from fault’s falling debris. The caves are up to 100 feet deep fissures in the quartz rock, with a very cold microclimate that supports several northern species such as black spruce, mountain ash, hemlock, and dwarf pitch pine. There are several hiking trails leading to Sam’s Point and the ice caves. The trail, steep in places, leads down the caves, winding around large boulders, with ice trapped in places. There are bridges, wooden steps, and ladders in parts of the caves. The trail continues up stone steps, under low exposed rock outcroppings, and by high, scenic cliffs before coming back to the surface.
Cragsmoor, NY 12420, USA, Tel. +1 201-512-9348
3. Howe Caverns, New York
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Howe Caverns, located in the town of Howes Cave, lie 156 feet underground and are composed of two types of limestone deposited hundreds of millions of years ago. The cavern contains a lake named the Lake of Venus and features many speleothems. The 2-hour Signature Rock Discovery Tour mimics real cave exploration. The guides take visitors to a section of the cave not previously open to the public. There is no electricity and no light. It is very cold and muddy. Another expanded tour passes by the remains of the original tourist boat, points out the signatures written on the rock by the early explorers over 100 years ago, and enters a cave named Music Hall, which has great acoustics. The tour ends at the Lake of Mystery, where the visitors have to crawl through a low water-logged passage. The caverns have a cave with a heart-like formation that is a popular spot to hold weddings.
255 Discovery Dr, Howes Cave, NY 12092, USA, Tel. +1 518-296-8900
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4. New York Caves: Lockport Cave
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Lockport Cave is a man-made hydraulic raceway built between 1858 and 1900 to supply water from the Erie Canal to local businesses. It is located in Lockport, New York, on the Erie Canal, not far from Niagara Falls. The cave is the site of the popular tourist attraction, the Lockport Cave and Underground Boat Ride. The tour starts with a walk through the water tunnel blasted from the solid rock, passing stalactites, interesting geological formations, and objects left behind by the men who constructed the tunnel in the 1800s. The tour continues with an underground boat ride that takes almost 70 minutes, about 40 feet underground, with very little light, creating a spooky, wet, and muddy atmosphere.
5 Gooding St, Lockport, NY 14094, USA, Tel. +1 716-438-0174
5. Natural Stone Bridge & Caves, New York
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Natural Stone Bridge and Caves is a tourist attraction in the Adirondack mountains in upstate New York, close to Lake George. The pretty, scenic riverside area contains a huge stone bridge or arch and a massive ¾ mile wide marble cave entrance. The cave is located mostly above ground and has natural stone steps and a trail. The cave contains some of the oldest marble in North America in the caves, which were formed during the last ice age. The cave contains interesting marble features such as grottos, portholes, a gorge, and a waterfall. This geological wonder is a popular location for earth science classes.
535 Stone Bridge Rd, Pottersville, NY 12860, USA, Tel. +1 518-494-2283
6. Tory Cave, New York
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The Tory Cave is a small, shallow limestone cave close to the top of the Helderberg Escarpment. It is part of the popular Thacher State Park near Albany, New York. There is a story linked to the cave and its name about Jacob Salsbury, a loyalist, or Tory as they were called, who was a spy and reported on the movement of rebel troops to the British during the American Revolution. He spent some time hiding in the cave, which must have been very uncomfortable because the cave offers very little shelter. It does contain ice stalagmites in the spring, what is rare in the local caves. The cave is off limits to tourists.
7. Secret Caverns, New York
Located upstate in Howes Cave, Secret Caverns boasts of a beautiful waterfall and pre-historic formations unassumingly hidden 100 feet beneath the ground. The caverns were first discovered in 1928, and have been attracting numerous roadside travelers ever since. In the small commercial cavern, visitors are led through prehistoric passageways by friendly and informative guides to see naturally formed stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, and fossils of some of America’s “first” settlers when the ocean covered North America. The 45-minute to 1-hour tour ends as visitors reach the majestic waterfall, which is the cavern’s main attraction. Visitors of all ages are welcome but should be informed that over 100 stairs are traversed to enter the cavern.
671 Caverns Road, Howes Cave, New York 12092, Phone: 518-296-8558
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8. New York Caves: Stone Church
While this cave may not be an actual church, it’s easy to see why Stone Church got its name. Over time, the flowing stream carved out the chapel-like cave into the shape of a steeple. The cave also has an otherworldly quality about it with beams of sunlight shooting through the ceiling’s fissure and lighting up the cave with a soft glow. The cave even features a monolith perfectly situated to resemble a pulpit. Located less than a mile from Dover Plains, tourists and locals alike are welcome to enjoy a scenic hike through maple trees and along the brook to visit Stone Church. While the hike is fairly easy, the trail may get slippery from time to time, so hiking shoes may still be an advantage for visitors.
Cart Road, Dover Plains, New York 12522
9. New York Caves: Coopers Cave
Visit the cave that inspired the great American novel The Last of the Mohicans. It’s easy to see why this mysterious, low cave and waterfall inspired author James Fenimore Cooper in 1825. Located along the Hudson River between Glen Falls’ city and southern village, the cave was situated in the ancestral home of the Algonquin-speaking Mohican tribe. The cave, which was carved out by the mighty Hudson River, was described by Cooper as “dark and silent,” giving onlookers a sense of awe and adventure. A viewing platform is situated right next to the cave, allowing visitors to get the best views while learning more about the Mohican Tribe and James Fenimore Cooper.
46 Saratoga Avenue, South Glens Falls, New York 12803; Phone: 518-793-1455
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