|The lobby is very 'Land of the Lost!'|
Where is Lost River Caverns?
The caverns are located in Hellertown, Pennsylvania, not far off of Rt. 78. When we went (around lunch time on a Tuesday in the summer), there was construction off of the exit onto rt. 412, but nothing that caused us any trouble. We were coming from Hunterdon county, New Jersey, so the trip was only about 30 minutes for us.
|The Jersey Cave Momma's Boy and The Jersey Cave Momma! Where is Mr. Jersey Momma?|
Friends told us it was 'cheesy and old' and 'small and cool.' I found that it was all of these things. Much like Roadside America and Northlandz, this is an attraction that has been around for decades. And it shows. The main lobby is dusty and the bathrooms are ancient. It smells like a basement. I don't know what it is about these old landmarks, but no one ever wants to maintain them. How hard is it, guys, to dust your displays every once in a while, or to fix that toilet in the bathroom with the giant garbage bag over it? I fear that someday these historic attractions will be no more, simply because no one bothered to maintain them over the years. And maybe I'm naive here, and it is a challenge to maintain these places. If that is the case, then I stand corrected. But it seems like just some simple upkeep (DUSTING, painting dingy walls, etc.) would make a big difference.
|Inside the lobby of the Lost Caverns.|
When you enter the lobby of The Lost River Caverns (a tiny little building stuck in the mountain), you check in at the front desk and they inform you when the next tour is. You don't have to pay anything until the tour is over, and as of the publication of this entry, fees were $12.50 for adults and $7.75 for kids 3-12 (always check their website for pricing info). The Jersey Grandpa was with us, and he was smart enough to ask for discounts (no senior discounts but they did offer a discount for AAA members, so be sure to bring your AAA card if you're a member!!).
|This is my kind of place!|
We didn't have to wait long for the tour (maybe 10 minutes?), so we were able to explore and take some photos. There was a huge dinosaur/waterfall display and a gift shop to wander around in before the tour.
|Lobby of the Lost River Caverns|
Our tour guide was named Andy and he was very knowledgeable and friendly. The Jersey Momma's boy was so excited to go down into a real cave that I thought he was going to burst! Standing in front of the cave entrance is a thrill as you stare down the path. I mean, look at it! How cool is that? I actually think the anticipation at the entrance was one of my favorite parts of the trip.
|Cave entrance- cool, right?|
We were fortunate to be in a small group of about 15 people, but we did pass very large groups of at least 20-25 people. Andy lead us through the cave and told us about its history and beauty. There were so many neat facts to learn about the cave and the 'lost river,' which you actually get to see (it's so crystal clear, it looks like a mirror). I don't want to give everything away, so you'll just have to take the tour and learn for yourself.
|Inside the cave- wowee!!|
Things To Know
It's chilly down there! So bring a sweatshirt or wear something warm. The cave maintains a constant 52 degrees, but it is damp and being down there for 30 minutes gives you kind of a 'cave chill' after a while. The floor is wet (I was told it is always wet) so wear good walking shoes with socks. The walk is not dangerous or treacherous, but there are a few places where you have to watch your head or face as you're walking. There are handrails to hold onto if you need them, but you can't touch the rocks.
|I'm in a cave and my legs look fabulous!|
It might help to bring a little flashlight. The path is lit well enough, but the boy next to me had a little flashlight on a string around his neck and he was shining that on the rock walls to see them better. I thought that was a cool idea (he also had a flip phone which he was using to take pictures. This has nothing to do with anything, I just thought it was cute that he had a flip phone). I was using the flashlight on my smartphone, which worked well, too.
|The cave ceiling at Lost River Caverns|
At one point a huge drop of water dripped onto my forehead and splashed right in my eyes (figures!). They say this is good luck and called a 'cave kiss.' It won't cause you any harm, but if you get freaked out about stuff like that, then wear a hat or a hoodie.
The tour was only about 30 minutes. Some reviewers online complained that the tour was too short and that Lost River did not have as much to offer as other caves in Pennsylvania. But for a Jersey Momma and her 6 year old boy (and his grandparents!) this was the perfect amount of time. It was hard enough for a little boy to stand and listen intently to a tour guide for that amount of time anyway.
At the end of the tour, I noticed some people tipping our tour guide. I didn't even realize that you're supposed to tip a tour guide and I had no singles on me anyway. So Andy, I'm sorry if I gipped you, dude.
The Gift Shop
The Jersey Momma's boy usually despises gift shops, much to my dismay (and delight, I guess, as I don't have to worry about him begging for souvenirs). But he liked this one. There were a lot of funky things (and cheesy things, too, but that's sometimes the fun of it). He really enjoyed rifling through their barrel of polished stones that were 4 for $1.00. I liked their chocolate candy rocks and their rock collection pencil. We also got a cave coloring book and a mini rocks/minerals identification book.
|Lost River Caverns Souvenir Shop|
Is It Worth the Trip?
This is another moment when we must ask ourselves, 'Will my child like this?' Because even though you might see it as cheesy, old and small, your kid sees it as...a cave!! Which is...just plain cool!!!
We didn't have to travel far so this was a fun, interesting trip for us. If you are coming a greater distance, then I suggest you make a whole day out of it. There is a nature trail outside the caverns to explore, and some rock panning you can do for an extra fee. We skipped both of these because it was wet and rainy when we went, and the Jersey Momma's boy had reached the end of his rope anyway (that's a phrase we use often, including, 'he's out of rope.' Ha!). We plan on going back again with Mr. Jersey Momma, since he was working the day we went.
|More cool cave pics|
More Jersey Momma Tips
*Parking is free. Their main lot is small but there is a larger parking lot across the street that you can also use.
*There are areas across the street where you can sit and eat or picnic, if you like.
*There are towns nearby so you can visit the local Rita's or drive a little further to find the local McDonald's.
*They are open year round except for major holidays, and the temperature in the cave is always a balmy 52 degrees, no matter what.
*The Jersey Momma is NOT compensated for any trips, unless otherwise specified. In fact, The Jersey Momma was very grateful that the Jersey Grandpa paid our admission fee. :)
One thing I have to add about the Lost River Caverns is that everyone working there was super friendly, respectful and just plain nice. The front desk greeter, our tour guide, the cashier at the souvenir shop- everyone was so polite. I really appreciate that in any establishment, so kudos to the Lost River Caverns for having such a friendly staff, and thank you for a fun day trip. Now go and plan your trip at www.lostcave.com Have fun!
Disclaimer: As previously stated, I was not compensated by Lost River Caverns but I did add some fun affiliate links below from Amazon if you want to shop for some cool rock collecting books or kits. I highly recommend the National Geographic Kids book of Rocks and Minerals. It's one of our favorites. Go for it!