Extreme Travel

America's scariest caves

Caves can be scary--so they're the perfect setting to get you in the Halloween spirit. Even better, some of these underground labyrinths are also reportedly haunted, so if you're up for adventure and mystery, plan a visit to a cave closest to you. 

  • 1. Mammoth Cave: Kentucky

    Mammoth Cave: Kentucky

    iStock

    Mammoth Cave, located in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky, is known as the largest haunted cave in America. Some 4000 years ago, people mined deep inside the cave, and the cave was sold to mine saltpeter. After several years, and after the War of 1812 made saltpeter desirable, the owner of the cave hired slaves to mine the cave. After the war, the business went under and the cave brought it's first tourists. The cave was then used in 1842 to house people with Tuberculosis as an experiment. The cave is said to be haunted by the patients that died there. 

    Mammoth Cave offers tours for $13, from 8:30am- 5:15pm 7 days a week. 

  • 2. Wind Cave: South Dakota

    Wind Cave: South Dakota

    NPS.gov

    Nestled in Wind Cave National Park, this cave is known as a sacred place for many native American tribes. But it's generally believed that the cave was discovered by a pair of brothers, Jesse and Tom Bingham, in 1881. While hunting, the brothers saw some grass blowing near the cave entrance a which was a 8" x 10" hole in the ground. Tom had his hat knocked off by the winds blowing through the entrance, but then several days later, Jesse returned to the cave to find that the wind had switched directions and sucked Tom's hat inside the cave. Today, it is understood that the movement of the wind is related to the difference in atmospheric pressure between the cave and the surface. But the brothers didn't enter the cave.  That distinction went to Charlie Crary, a local miner, who in 1881 left twine to mark his trail so others could follow. He was the first to see the rare rock formation called boxwork, which closely resembles a large spider web. 

    The cave is open everyday except for Christmas. Cave tours are offered 362 days a year, and tickets are sold for $30 on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations are available for the Candlelight and Wild Cave tours, as well as for groups.

  • 3. Bell Witch Cave: Tennessee

    Bell Witch Cave: Tennessee

    Legend has it that John Bell, a farmer from North Carolina, settled in northern Robertson County in 1804 with his wife and children on a 320 acre farm along the Red River. In the summer of 1817, family members started seeing strange looking animals on their property and late at night they would hear knocking sounds on the doors and outer walls of their home. Eventually, sounds started being heard inside the house, such as chains being drug across the floor, and rats gnawing on the bed post. The family lived in fear, but kept the problem to themselves for over a year when things became intolerable. John asked for help from a neighbor, and invited them to stay the night in order to witness the sounds for themselves. Once they confirmed the mysterious sounds, word got out and people would come from miles and miles to hear and witness this terrorizing force. After a while, the unseen force had gained a voice and revealed its name was Kate Batts. From then on, people referenced the force as "Kate" the "Bell's Witch."

    Visitors today can visit Bell Cave and tour a replica of the Bell Cabin for $18. Daytime cave and cabin tours are available from 10am to 5pm. Check for special dates and times.

  • 4. Hellhole: West Virginia

    Hellhole: West Virginia

    iStock

    Hellhole cave, located in Germany Valley, is home 20,000 hibernating bats and rare cave-dwelling animals.  It's not the temperature of the cave that gives it its name (at 47 degrees F., it's about 10 degrees colder than the average West Virginia cave), but its only known entrance --a funnel-shaped 154-foot pit entrance. Since the 1940s when it was first explored, cavers have documented over 41 miles of mapped passage in the Hellhole system.

    The cave isn't open to the public, but can admire it from afar. 

  • 5. Cathedral Caverns: Alabama

    Cathedral Caverns: Alabama

    alapark.com

    Cathedral Caverns, originally called Bat Cave, was opened to the public in the 1950's and was renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance. After the state purchased it in 1987, it was opened as a State Park in the summer of 2000. Cathedral Caverns boasts a massive grand entrance with the opening measuring 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. Inside the cavern are the most beautiful formations, including "Goliath"- a stalagmite measuring 45 feet tall. Although there is no hidden legend or mystery, the grandness of this cave makes it a scary place to be during the day or after dark. 

    Tours are offered beginning at 9am, 7 days a week and are $17 for adults and $7 for children. Check here for special holiday hours and closings. 

  • 6. Moaning Cavern: California

    Moaning Cavern: California

    Caverntours.com

    Moaning Cavern in Vallecito, California gets its name from the sound the air makes as it circulates deep within the cavern. There are said to be 100 prehistoric people whose bodies were found at the bottom of the cave, which also might contribute to its creepiness. If you're brave enough, this spooky cavern offers rappel tours 165 feet deep into the abyss and then guests have to exit through a wrought iron staircase. You'll want to watch your step, because it's a long way down. 

    A variety of tours are offered including a walking tour for $15.95 (adult), $8.50 (child), rappel tours ranging from $47.50 to $72.00, and an adventure trip for ages 12+ for $130.00. See the website for additional pricing and hours.