Dig a little deeper and beat the summer heat—here are five nearby caverns to explore for an hour or a day.

Just a hop, skip, and a spelunk across the state border is Laurel Caverns (Farmington, Pennsylvania, 45 minutes), which claims the title for Pennsylvania’s largest cave. Cavers can choose their own adventure: a family-friendly traditional tour through lit passageways, an upper caving tour for the novice spelunker, or a challenging lower caving tour through the mountain’s three-mile labyrinth. For visitors 12 and older, rappelling down a 40-foot cliff inside the cavern is a must-do.

If you’re feeling the heat after hiking at Seneca Rocks, enjoy Earth’s natural air-conditioning in one of the area’s two caverns. Smoke Hole Caverns (Cabins, 2h) is 56 degrees year-round, even in August, so bring a light jacket. An hour-long walking tour navigates through stalactites and stalagmites―with a guide who can tell you the difference. Kids will want to continue the fun by finding for their fortunes at Smoke Hole’s Gemstone Mining.

Still haven’t had enough underground venturing? Seneca Caverns (Riverton, 2.5h) also offers an hourlong guided tour that delves 165 feet below the entrance. Pack a picnic for lunch in the surrounding meadows, or fill the chasm of your stomach with the Cavern Burger at Asbury’s Family Restaurant.

For a weekend trip, drive the 3 hours to Lost World Caverns in Lewisburg. A self-guided tour passes rock formations that look as awe-inspiring as their names: the Snowy Chandelier, Bridal Veil, and War Club. Or find yourself between a rock and a hard place on a four-hour wild cave adventure through more than a mile of passageways. A safety talk, hot lunch, and post-spelunking shower―you’ll need it!―are provided.

There be dragons in Skyline CavernsEnchanted Dragon Mirror Maze (Front Royal, Virginia, 3 hours). To see natural magic, take a guided tour through the caverns, which is the site of three underground streams and a 37-foot Rainbow Waterfall. Don’t forget to look up. Skyline Caverns is one of the few worldwide that has crystal formations called anthodites. Once you’re back aboveground, soak in the Shenandoah Valley sunshine on a miniature train ride.

Don’t go batty in the summer heat. Take a journey to the center of the Earth―or at least get a little bit closer―right outside of Morgantown.

Jess Walker
Written by Jess Walker
Jess Walker came to West Virginia to pursue her master’s degree in English, but stayed for the culture, nature, and stories. She writes for WV Living and Morgantown magazines. Her best ideas happen when she’s outdoors, preferably near a river and with a cup of coffee in hand.