Crystal Caves

Stalagtites
Image by view from 5’2″ via Flickr

Hours:
Open daily 9:30 – 5:30 between Memorial Day and Labor Day
Open daily 10:30 – 4:30 from Labor Day to Halloween
Open weekends 10:00 – 4:00 Halloween through Memorial Day
Prices:
$12.95 for adults
$7.95 Children 4 – 12
Free Children under 3
Location:
W965 State Road 29, Spring Valley, WI 54767
Parking:
Free on site
The Crystal Caves are located about 1 hour south of the Twin Cities in Spring Valley Wisconsin.These caves were discovered in the late 1800 by a couple of teenage boys who lived nearby. They tumbled through and opening into a cave that turned out to go at least 7 stories down. There are tours available frequently and guides detail the history and geography of the cave as guests walk down and into a new world.
The cave is home to 4 different kinds of bats, though guests may not actually see any, particularly during the summer months when the bats prefer the warmth of the outside to the constant 48 degrees of the cave. The tour begins in the area where the boys fell into the cave and continues through a variety of caverns filled with interesting formations. The tour guides provide some interesting stories to go along with some of the unusual rock formations. There are also fossils in the cave, though they are difficult to spot as the lighting is not very bright.
Tour groups are limited to about 20 people and there are usually about 5 tour leaders available so a new tour can leave about every 20 minutes or so. The cave does provide access for large groups such as school and day care groups. The gift shop does have a wide variety of items available for purchase from rocks to miners’ caps. The gift shop is also where guests can purchase bags of ‘crystals’ or bags of ‘fossils’ to be panned. The bag looks like a bag of clay soil, but it has many different crystals or fossils mixed in and the kids use the panning area to clean away the unwanted clay. This was the most fun part of the entire day as the panning revealed some beautiful rocks in a wide variety of colors. The fossil bag has some large fossils, shark teeth and other smaller fossils inside.
There are not restaurants available on site, though they do sell fudge and a few other sweet treats. There is a nice picnic area with a single grill and many guests bring a lunch when they visit around lunch time. There is also a covered picnic area if the weather is not good. In addition to the cave tour there is a short walking tour through the woods. The trail is easy to follow and has several signs about local trees found along the way. This walk was a nice way to end the day before leaving.

Tips for Visiting Crystal Caves
1.    Wear a coat, the caves are a constant 48 degrees and while it may feel good at first it does get cold by the end of the tour.
2.    Bring some change – I won’t spoil the surprise but it is worth the effort
3.    Wear closed toed shoes, some of the trail is gravel and the caves are cold
4.    Bring your lunch as there are picnic areas available
5.    Bring a small camera that fits in a pocket as extra bags and backpacks are not allowed into the cave.
6.    Try some of the fudge that can be purchases – there is a wide variety of flavors available
7.    The lights do get turned completely off during one part of the tour so young children may get scared at this point.
8.    Pan for the smaller shards of rocks in the bags as well as the large crystals.
9.    Go on the short walk through the woods and keep an eye out for owls and bats.
10.    Wear comfortable shoes as there is a lot of walking.
The Crystal Caves are well worth the trip for families that enjoy fossils, rocks and caves. It is a fun way to have a new adventure and have some pretty rocks to keep as souvenirs. There are other fun family attractions closer to the Twin Cities that also offer some adventure. Check out the following reviews:

Wabasha Street Caves
Wood Lake Nature Center
Minnesota Zoo

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