Bluesprings Caverns, Bedford, IN. $22/person. The longest navigable underground river in the United States at about 1/2 mile each way. Whole cave is 21 miles long. This entrance to this cave system was once a cow pond that caved in one day which led to the discovery of the cave system. It was bought by the 3 people that originally mapped the caves and they have kept it as pristine as possible using only the lights on their boats to illuminate the cave and silent electric boats. The water is a beautiful, clear blue from the magnesium it carries. Bluesprings Caverns is home to a diverse array of uniquely developed cave species who are able to survive in the dark and 52F temperature. The river has one of the largest populations of northern blind cavefish, as well as blind crayfish. Inside the cave near the entrance, both bats and cave salamanders can be spotted.
They also have a 1/2’ mile walking loop around Indiana’s biggest sinkhole that’s located right above the end of the cave boat tour.
As our guides suggested we headed over to Applacres, about 5 minutes away, for apple/cherry milkshakes. Small/$2 including tax, perfect size for a treat and ginger molasses cookies, 4 for $1.25, fresh baked and absolutely delicious.
Jug Rock Nature Preserve, Shoals, IN. It is composed of sandstone, and at 60’ is the largest free-standing table rock formation (also called a “mushroom rock”) in the United States east of the Mississippi River.
Spring Mill State Park, Mitchell, IN. $9/car/non-resident. We visited the Pioneer Village and Trail 3 (2.5 mile loop, 140’ elevation) past Bronson’s cave, Twin Caves and through Donaldson’s woods which are virgin old growth forest, very beautiful with huge trees. Trail 4 (1 miles total out and back, 223’ elevation) took us to Donaldson’s Cave, a big 3 pronged cave, one arm of which they allow you to walk into. Next time we’re going to bring a light and see how far we can go. Super cool, well worth a visit.
French Licks Pizza, Coffee Bar and Ice Cream. Cool decor, connects to the wood carvers on one side and the French Lick Museum on the other. We skipped ice cream tonight, although I don’t recommend doing that, considering they have flavors like spearmint chocolate chip and pecan pie.
West Baden Springs Hotel, West Baden Springs, IN. From August of 1902 until April of 1965 the West Baden Springs Hotel was known as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”. It earned that recognition because it was the largest free-span dome constructed of both steel and glass until the opening of the Houston Astrodome. It also a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark. At the time of its completion in 1902, at a diameter of 200’, it was the largest domed structure in the world, and remained unsurpassed for more than 60 years. It is spectacular and serves as an atrium, a dining area, sitting area, meeting area. It also has beautiful grounds, upscale dining, coffee, desserts, and add ons like fancy spas, horse riding and historic tours. An historic trolley takes you from the hotel to town and the casino at the resort down the street. The town also seems nice with great restaurants and a historic feel, but it’s not overly crowded with people. Apparently, this used to be a destination for the rich and famous including movie stars and mobsters.