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National Caves Association Declares National Day of Caves and Karst
The National Caves Association, which represents more than 80 shows caves has declared June 6 as National Day of Caves and Karst to increase awareness of the roles both play in our lives and the environment.
In Southern Indiana there are multiple show caves, each offering a completely unique experience. At Squire Boone Caverns, visitors explore the cave that pioneers Daniel and Squire Boone discovered during their development of the Cumberland Trail. With the largest rimstone dams in the country and a 40' tall formation estimated to be more than 1 million years old, the beauty of this cave is undeniable.
"There's just so much to see, learn and discover underground,"
1. See things they've never seen before.
No two caves are alike. Sights on a cave tour include formations, millions of years in the making, such as stalagmites, stalactites, aragonite crystals, flowstone and cave bacon. There are also many caves with water features, such as underground rivers, pristine lakes and raging waterfalls.
2. Spend quality time with family.
Some of the best family memories are made during summer vacations and staycations. Exploring caves with kids not only means quality time together, it can spark an interest in science and nature that will last a lifetime. Bonding opportunities exist as well when family members share a challenge such as going deep underground for an adventurous wild tour.
"Most people don't realize that when they're out walking or taking a hike, there might be a completely different world beneath their feet. Even teenagers, who weren't that excited about the trip to begin with, are amazed and want to go right back in for another tour," John Graves, president and CEO of Virginia's Luray Caverns, explained. "No matter how many times you go underground, it's different every time."
3. Cave tours are educational.
Most guided tours teach guests about the history of that particular cave and the surrounding area, as well as its geology, the positive impacts of bats and the importance of cave conservation. There's a lot more to learn about the scientific research that's taking place in caves around the world. Universities are partnering with privately owned caves to learn how unique bacteria can play a role in cancer treatment and the development of new antibiotics. Researchers also collect broken formations to track historical weather trends dating back hundreds of thousands of years and take water samples to identify changes in mineral content.
"There's no limit to the ways that we can benefit by better understanding caves and karst. Astronauts train underground, and NASA is considering the possibility of using a cave to create a shelter on Mars so that only one exterior wall has to be constructed,"
The National Park Service offers a Junior Cave Scientist Program to encourage kids' learning. A free activity booklet is available for download at https://www.nps.gov/
4. Spending time in nature has many benefits.
Multiple studies show that nature boosts our mental and physical well-being. Benefits, particularly when paired with exercise, include restored mental energy, better vision in children, improved concentration, sharper thinking and creativity. Spending time in natural spaces has been linked to increased energy, improved cognition, reduced anger and stress, lower blood pressure and slower heart rates.
5. Caves are fun.
These aren't your grandfather's cave tours. Options for exploring and spending time in caverns are increasing each year. Visitors can: see the largest rimstone dams in the country at Squire Boone Caverns, travel on underground rivers in electric tour boats at Bluespring Caverns and in kayaks at Indiana Caverns or choose from two different tours and a simulator at Marengo Cave - all in Southern Indiana!
"I've been a caver most of my life, so any time I spend underground is fun for me. Having the family join me makes it even better," Steve Beckley, who owns Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park with his wife Jeanne, said. "Like all cave owners, we are stewards of these incredibly delicate natural resources. We all share a passion for protecting them and for educating people about them. That's what the National Day of Caves and Karst is all about."
Squire Boone Caverns