Beneath the rolling green hills of Southern Indiana, the sinewy 21 mile Myst’ry River courses through the subterranean passages of Bluespring Caverns near Bedford, Indiana. Serious spelunkers could crawl through the caverns, most of them still unexplored in an area known as Limestone Country because of the porous rock beneath the surface that’s perfect for forming caves. But for those of us who like soft adventure the best way to travel the longest subterranean river in the United States is on a specially designed 17 person flat-bottomed boat.
Climb aboard for the hour long, 1.7 mile trip as the boat navigates the river’s twists and turns, moving through passageways whose walls are coated with a fine film of mud. The tour is memorable with the boat maneuvering tight corners that take it from high vaulted chambers into narrow passages on a river abundant with rare albino blindfish and crayfish. Overhead, water occasionally drips from stalactites.
When the drops hit boaters, the clammy experience is affectionately known as cave kisses.
These dripping ceilings along with the few moments when the guide switches off all illumination, plunging the caverns into a dense, impenetrable darkness that hides everything behind a black velvet curtain, remind visitors what the early explorers of these caverns, known to locals since the early 1800s, must have experienced.
Return to the land above to grab food at the snack bar at the Hospitality Center and picnic under the sun in the wooded cove outside by the parking lot, pan for gold, learn the geological history of the cave through the storyboard exhibits and buy treasures such as native Indiana rocks and arrowheads at the caverns’ gift shop.
1459 Bluespring Caverns Road, Bedford, IN. 812-279-9471 or www.bluespringcaverns.com