Imagine the temperature a sweltering 95 degrees; then you step on an elevator shaft and whoosh, the temperature changes instantly to a cool 60-70 degrees as you plummet 260 feet below ground. Not only do you get an immediate reversal of temperatures, but you are going to be treated to a marvel: Beautiful rock formations, flowing passages and several stream beds make up this castle like cavern below ground. Ruby Falls, located in Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee has an average year-round temperature of 60 degrees (although it can at times feel like 70 due to humidity in the cave). So, if you’re wanting to cool off, this popular tourist attraction is open year round – for more information check out this site: http://rubyfalls.com/pages/History/
If you really want to stay cool in the summer, Missouri is the place to be with its 6,000 or so caves. With names like Bridal Cave, Cathedral Cave, Jacobs Cave, Talking Rocks Cavern, and Meramec Caverns (probably the most well known in that number) just to name a few; you’re sure to find the perfect one for cooling off. Visit here to see a map and learn more about Missouri’s caves: http://missouricaves.com/mo-map.htm
What about the second longest cave in the world (at 151.34 miles)? It can be found in South Dakota. Jewel cave, which celebrated its centennial in 2008, offers breathtaking walks with its many stalactites and stalagmites as well as several varieties of bats. This is the place to be when the temperatures are soaring outside. Custer, South Dakota is about 13 miles away, or as the crow flies it would be about 54 miles to the Rapid City, Iowa airport.
Another cool place to visit is the Lost Sea, located in Sweetwater, Tennessee, where you can visit America’s largest underground lake 364 days a year. The Lost Sea is part of the Craighead Cavern system, used by the Cherokee Indians, early settlers and the Confederate Army. There are anthodites (cave flowers) to see, rare cave formations, and cool temperatures to appease visitors on a hot day. It is easily accessible off of I-75.
Or, you may want to experience the thrill of Rickwood Cavern’s miracle mile of underground caverns where you can find “260 million-year-old limestone formations, blind cave fish, and an underground pool,” just a few of the natural wonders in this colorful cavern located in Warrior, Alabama.
How about touring Mammoth Cave near Cave Springs, Kentucky? It is considered “the most extensive and diverse ecosystem in the world” to quote the World Heritage Site. The park and its subterranean labyrinth features unique fauna of more than 200 species.
If you want to tour the deepest cave in the U.S., then you may want to visit Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico and trek down Lechuguilla Cave, which at 1,632 feet is surely a great place to cool off during the Dog Days of Summer.
One last note: if you happen to venture beyond the U.S. shores, you might consider visiting the Reed Flute Cave, a landmark and tourist attraction in Guilin, Guangxi, China, where you can tour this 180 million-year-old cave known as Nature’s Palace because of the multi-colored lights illuminating the cave’s interior.