Continuing on our last-minute post-heavy slide into the home plate of December 31, we take you today into the bowels of Fayette County. No, really. Really, really deep into Fayette County. Much deeper than even the Fayette County Fair took us in July. Because on the last weekend of October, we actually went underground in Fayette County, to complete an Achievement that had been on our list for a handful of years: visit Laurel Caverns.
Laurel Caverns is a natural cave of about three miles in length — the largest cave in Pennsylvania. It’s open from the end of April until the first weekend in November each year for cave tours and spelunking of all levels, from casual visitors (us) to the hardcore spelunkers (people who have no fear of getting caught between two giant rocks in the dark).
The journey begins in the Visitors Center. We signed up for our tour, and then wandered around looking at some photos and maps while waiting to begin. Tours run every 20 minutes, so you never have to wait too long to go.
The tour is suitable for basically anyone who can do a hilly hike, but I would caution about shoes: you can’t wear flipflops or anything with a heel, and I wore flat boots, but if I did this again, I would absolutely have something grippier, like my Vibrams. The floors are dirt for the most part, and I had a few ‘oh no I’m going down’ moments (although thankfully I never actually did).
Another stretch of the cave was lit by what I called ‘Tinkerbell lights.’ Much like in Peter Pan when you have to clap really loud to keep Tinkerbell alive, to keep the lights on in a little hallway, you have to be loud as hell.
After making a fool out of yourself talking to a row of lamps, you are rewarded with this fabulous room, home to the Pillar of Hercules. You’ll notice that this pillar looks like it is holding up the ceiling… and if you look closer, you’ll notice that there is a nice, fat cushion of air between the top of this formation and the bottom of the ceiling. Quite a nice false sense of security!
It may have taken us a few years to finally get to Laurel Caverns, but it was worth the wait! Our tour was excellent and informative, and we had a great time. In addition to the traditional guided tour that we took, there are longer, more difficult spelunking tours, as well as rappelling inside the cave. Laurel Caverns even has its own mini-golf on the premises! They are open from the last weekend in April until the first weekend in November, and we definitely recommend that you take the short trip to Fayette County to go on a spelunking adventure of your own!