Myself, a friend, and our two preschoolers decided to go on an adventure; one that would be appropriate for the kiddos, but also interesting and educational for us. Our destination: Indian Echo Caverns.
When we arrived we headed to the Gift Shop to purchase our admission tickets. It’s not hard to get distracted while standing in line; the store is filled with eye-catching items. From sweatshirt to Indian arrows, the gift shop has everything you could imagine. Everyone can find a suitable souvenir with little trouble.
After we got our tickets, we waited a short 10 minutes before meeting up with our group and tour guide. Once assembled, we embarked on our decent to the cavern. The kids were giddy with excitement. Before long, we were standing in front of the entrance – a large stonework facade with heavy wooden doors boasting the letters “I.E.C.” (Indian Echo Caverns, of course).
Throughout the tour our witty and friendly tour guide shared interesting facts and anecdotes about the cave and it’s history. We learned that the cavern is made mostly of limestone and was formed by water erosion over millions of years. The earliest known use of the caverns was by the Susquehannock Indians who lived and hunted in the area. However, since 1783 it’s been visited by many others. The temperature inside the caverns is 52 degrees year around (be sure to bring a light jacket or sweatshirt).
The kids loved the tour. Never before had they seen anything quite like it. We saw two pristine ponds of immaculately clear water, stalactites and stalagmites, interesting geological features, large rooms with high rock ceilings, and 150-year-old graffiti. We experienced the pitch blackness of the caverns and learned about a man who lived in the caverns for 19 years (his journal is allegedly on display at the State Museum of Pennsylvania).
All along the way, the path was safe and well lit for all those touring. One word of caution: don’t touch the rocks! The oils from your hands can compromise the rock, potentially breaking down their chemical composition.
Before we knew it, the tour was over… but it wasn’t time to go home.
The kiddos had energy to expend, so we headed to the spacious, well-shaded onsite play area. It had a slide, swings, and a rock wall. Near the play area are picnic tables for guests to use for lunch (yes, you can bring your own food onto the property!). There are also two covered picnic areas available for rent, one which seats 30-40 people and another which seat a total of 100 people.
Did I mention they have a small petting zoo, too? Yep. Sure enough the kids were captivated by the animals. They saw goats, bunnies, chickens, and roosters.
After spending some time with the animals, we headed to Gem Mill Junction, a hands-on activity that allows you to shift through water and sediment to find gemstones, amethyst, jasper, calcite, agate, and more. You can have your favorite stone turned into a necklace – pretty cool! Because the Gem Mill Junction is outdoor, it is a seasonal attraction that operates 7 days a week between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Indian Echo Caverns has a lot to offer. Plan a day to spend with your family, friends, or even a large group. It is well worth your time.
To learn more about this unique destination, find admission prices and hours, or to download an admission coupon, visit their website http://www.indianechocaverns.com/plan_your_visit.htm.