Explore Marengo Cave- A National Natural Landmark in Indiana

You may be familiar with many of Indiana’s popular attractions that are above ground, but did you know that Indiana has cave systems below ground too?

Marengo Cave is Indiana’s most visited natural attraction featuring unique formations to explore and admire.

The U.S. National Natural Landmark is located in southern Indiana and makes a great road trip destination for families of all ages.

 Marengo Cave in Indiana

Thanks again to Visit French Lick West Baden for hosting our visit to Marengo Cave. All opinions are my own. This article contains affiliate links.

lantern on Dripstone in Marengo Cave in Indiana

Who Discovered Marengo Cave?

The cave’s discovery is credited to two siblings, Orris and his sister Blanche Hiestand on September 6, 1883.

The following Sunday the main corridors of the cave were explored by property owner, Samuel Stewart and a few of his friends.

Shortly after the discovery, Samuel Stewart had big plans for the cave, offering public tours in October of that same year for 25 cents.

caller rock sign in Marengo Cave in Indiana

More Fun Facts About Marengo Cave:

In 1909 the first documented wedding was held in the cave in the section of the cave called Music Hall. Over the years Music Hall has also been a venue for concerts, plays, square dancing, and even a music video.

“Pulpit Rock” was used by a local preacher for sermons on Sunday afternoons in the early 1920s’.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

In 1963, the cave was designated as a shelter for up to 435 persons during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

In 1984 Marengo Cave was designated a National Natural Landmark as the most highly decorated cavern in the Interior Lowlands of the United States.

The Stewart family operated the cave tours until 1955 when Floyd Denton purchased it.

Gordan Smith is currently the sole owner of Marengo Cave.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

How Big is Marengo Cave?

Marengo Cave is 5 miles in length and has two parallel underground rivers and dryer upper-level passages. There are 122 acres that cover the grounds above the caverns.

Cave formations in Marengo Cave

How Long Are the Cave Tours at Marengo Cave?

There are two public Marengo Cave tours to choose from. The Crystal Palace tour is 40 minutes and the Dripstone Trail is 60 minutes.

*The tours are NOT handicap accessible.

 Marengo Cave in Indiana

Help Protect the Beautiful Formations

Guests are asked to help protect the natural beauty in the show caves by NOT touching the cave walls or any of the formations.

historic sign in Marengo Cave in Indiana

What’s the Difference Between the Two Cave Tours at Marengo Cave? (Public Tours)

There are two public cave walking tours to choose from that do not require an advanced reservation.

Crystal Palace Tour – 1/3 Mile

The Crystal Palace Tour Crystal is a 40-minute that takes guests past flowstone deposits and through formation-filled rooms.

Crystal Palace has bragging rights, considered by many as America’s most beautiful cave room.

Crystal Palace Cave highlights include:

  • Pillared Palace
  • Queen’s Palace
  • Crystal Palace
  • Natural Entrance of the Cave
  • Mirror Lake
  • Crystal Palace Entrance
Marengo Cave in Indiana

Dripstone Trail Tour – (1 mile)

The other tour at Marengo Cave is the 60-minute Dripstone Trail which features a penny ceiling, delicate soda straws, and totem pole stalagmites.

Dripstone Trail Cave Tour Highlights include the following rooms of the cave:

  • Dripstone Trail Entrance
  • Cave Hill Cemetary
  • Sherwood Forrest
  • Looking Glass Lake
  • The Maze
  • Candlestick Park
  • Washington Avenue
  • Penny Ceiling
  • Music Hall
  • The Masher
  • Elk’s Hall
  • Signature Hall
  • Elephant Head
friends on tour in Marengo Cave

How Cold is Marengo Cave?

Marengo Cave is 52 degrees °F year-round. The cave is comfortable in a sweatshirt, light jacket, and pants/jeans.

The walking tours underground are the perfect place to cool off on a hot summer day or to warm up an extremely cold one.

Dripstone Trail Tour in Marengo Cave in Indiana

How Much is Admission to Marengo Cave?

Marengo Cave prices:

Crystal Palace

  • Children ages 3 and under are free
  • $12.95 ages 4-12
  • $21.95 ages 13 & up

Dripstone Trail

  • Children ages 3 and under are free
  • $14.95 ages 4-12
  • $24.95 ages 13 & up

Combo Tickets

If you want to tour both caves the best value is the Combo Ticket which has no expiration date.

  • $18.95 ages 4-12
  • $30.95 ages 13 and up

Special Pricing for Groups and Field Trips

There are special Marengo Cave prices available for groups and field trips for school children in elementary and high school.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

Marengo Cave Discount Tickets

Military Family Discount

  • All U.S. Military and their dependents can receive a discount of $2 per person by simply showing a valid military ID.

Indiana Foster Family Discount

  • Save $10-12 per child
  • Children enjoy one of our walking tours, use of a shelter house or picnic area, the nature trail, and The Crawl all for free.
  • Valid for up to 6 foster and dependent children under 18 living in the same household as the foster parent. Special group rates apply for adults and additional children.
  • *Must bring a completed application form, valid photo ID, and current foster parent license. Foster children must be present to qualify.
  • Not Valid on Holiday Weekends, Memorial Day, July 4th & Labor Day.

Homeschool Family Discount

  • The discount is available from December – February from Monday- Friday
  • One Tour -$9 per adult/ $7 per child (ages 4-12)
  • Both Tours – $10 per adult/ $8 per child (ages 4-12)
Dripstone Trail Tour at Marengo Cave

Our Cave Tour of the Dripstone Trail

During our visit, we opted to take the Dripstone Trail, and all of the cave images that you see in this article are from that tour.

Dripstone Trail Entrance

We based our decision on which of the regular walking tours was available to take closest to our arrival time.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

During the guided cave tour, you’ll learn about the history of the cave and the different types of rock formations and have lots of opportunities to ask questions.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

If someone in your group is claustrophobic you’ll find that most of the cave feels pretty open with the exception of the short walk from the entrance of the cave that’s more narrow.

Dripstone Trail at Marengo Cave

The majority of the time of your tour you’ll be in awe of the unique formations in each room of the cave.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

There are only a few places that are a little narrower where you briefly need to watch your head.

cave formation in Marengo Cave in Indiana

Many of the rock formations in the cave that are pointed out by the guides have names based on what they look like.

For example, the formation above reminds me of an eel.

 cave formation in Marengo Cave in Indiana

Do you see the “kissing couple” in the rock formation shadows? Once it’s pointed out it totally changes the way you see shapes and shadows in the cave.

penny ceiling in Marengo Cave in Indiana

A Unique Cave Tour Experience

During the Dripstone Trail tour, there was a specific part of the cave called the “Penny Ceiling” where we were given the opportunity to toss coins up to the cave ceiling. The mud on the cave ceiling helps the coins to stick to it naturally.

Tour patrons could make a wish and toss their own coins up to the ceiling or there were several on the ground that could be tossed up in an attempt to stick. This was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in all of my cave tours.

You’ll also get to experience pure darkness for a brief moment when the guide turns off all the lights.

Cave Exploring Adventure at Marengo Cave

Book a Private Tour at Marengo Cave

If you’re feeling extra adventurous, comfortable with tight spaces, and don’t mind getting dirty, you might want to check out the options for exploration tours.

All private tours need to be booked a minimum of 2 weeks in advance.

Underground Adventure Cave Tour

  • Group Size 6-22
  • Ages 10+
  • 2 hours + cleanup

The Underground Adventure goes to Old Town Spring Cave and is recommended as a great introduction to cave exploration, where adventurers are guaranteed to get wet.

During the tour, guests will crawl, crouch, scramble through a variety of passages, and wade the underground river. There is a chance that you could see cave crayfish, sculpins, salamanders, and bats.

Waterfall Crawl Tour

  • Group size 6-20
  • Ages 10+
  • 2 hours + cleanup

This two-hour cave exploration trip is for ages 10+ and starts with the Red Room ladder entrance into Marengo Cave’s New Discovery, a section of the cave that was discovered on June 6, 1992.

Prepare to get wet and very muddy as you trudge through the “Valley of Lost Soles” and visit Stewart Spring, Indiana’s 13th largest producing spring, from underground.

Cave adventurers will exit the cave from the “Pig Pen” which is named for the slimy wet clay that you’ll be covered in.

Beyond the Falls Tour

  • Group Size 6-15
  • Tour Time 3 hours + cleanup
  • Ages 12+

This cave tour is for ages 12+ and extends the Waterfall Crawl tour beyond the falls. Adventurers will go to an area that explorers dug and opened to a crawlway on June 14, 1992, that leads into one of Indiana’s largest underground passages that few people have experienced.

Cave adventurers will be wading in an underground stream, crawling, and climbing over a large amount of breakdown into Stewart Hall which measures a ceiling height of approximately 60 feet, 350 feet wide, and over 250 feet long.

Beyond the Falls Cave Tour Highlights include:

  • Stewart Spring
  • Stream Above the Waterfall
  • Discovery Room Passage
  • Red Room Entrance

What Should You Wear on a Cave Exploring Tour?

Marengo Cave recommends the following for a private cave exploring tour:

  • Two layers of OLD warm clothes that you’re ok ruining. You must have your arms and legs covered.
  • Boots or other OLD sturdy shoes, high top or lace up. No Crocs or water shoes are allowed.
  • Kneepads and gloves are highly recommended
Dripstone Trail Tour in Marengo Cave in Indiana

When Can You Visit Marengo Cave?

Marengo Cave is open year-round with a few exceptions for holidays.

Marengo Cave hours are the following:

  • Weekdays- Monday- Friday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
  • Weekends – Saturday & Sunday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Extended and Holiday Hours
  • Labor Day – Memorial Day 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM every day
  • Memorial Day – Labor Day Marengo Cave has extended evening hours
  • Weekdays until 6:00 PM and weekends until 6:30 PM

*Open Easter Sunday at noon. Closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day

“Caroling in the Cave” is also a popular free annual event on a select date in December with holiday music, Santa, and more.

Dripstone Trail Tour in Marengo Cave in Indiana

What Time Zone is Marengo Cave in?

Marengo Cave is in EDT and many nearby counties in southern Indiana are in CST.

 Marengo Cave

Additional Family-Friendly Activities at Marengo Cave

The following activities can be purchased individually.

  • Pedal Karting – four-wheel go-karts on the Springtown Speedway Racetrack – Ages 5+ (10-20 minutes)
Sky Climber at Marengo Cave
  • The Sky Climber – Climb vertically 30 feet tall using 8 layers to climb up with enclosed netting all around. Next, take the fast spiral slide back down. Must be at least 42 inches.
    Ages 4+ (10-20 minutes)
  • Mini Glow Putt Putt Golf – Indoor climate-controlled, 9-hole mini putt putt golf with black lights and glow-in-the-dark paint. Ages 4+ (10-20 minutes)
The Miner's Maze Marengo Cave
  • Mega Maze – 5,000 square foot wooden maze with two sets of 4 challenge checkpoints and only one way in and one way out – Ages 4+ (10- 30 minutes)
Cave Simulator Marengo Cave
  • Cave Simulator – Experience caving without the mud or water through a winding maze of wooden boxes Ages 6+ and children must be accompanied by an adult (20-30 minutes per group)
  • Gemstone Mining – Sift dirt and rock like early miners. Gem mining activity includes mining materials, a plastic bag for gems, and a gem identification card. Ages 2+ (10-20 minutes)

How to Save on Multiple Activities

The best value for multiple activities is the wristband for $20 which includes the following:

  • Unlimited times for the day on the Pedal Karts, 30’ Sky Climber, Mega Maze, Mini Glow Putt-Putt, and the Crawl Simulator
  • One bag of Gem Stone Mining
Rock Shop at Marengo Cave

Rock Shop

The rock shop features rocks from around the world. There are specialty rocks, jewelry, and more available for purchase in a range of price points.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

Gift Shop at Marengo Cave

The gift shop at Marengo Cave is 3,000 square feet and filled with educational items, souvenirs, and merchandise that make a great gift.

camping sites at Marengo Cave

Camping at Marengo Cave

If you want to extend your visit beyond a day trip, Marengo Cave offers a few overnight accommodation options to choose from year-round.

The Marengo Cave Campground is a lesser-known destination for camping which means that crowds are rare there.

There is a limit of one car and two tents per site and no alcohol is permitted.

Check-in is at 3:00pm and check-out is 10:00am.

Amenities at Marengo Cave Campground

Amenities at Marengo Cave Campground include the following:

  • Fire pit, grills
  • Picnic tables
  • Nearby modern showers and restrooms
  • Free WIFI is available at the gift shop!
  • All sites have 50 amp electric hookups and 4-110 outlets
  • 11′ X 11′ Pavilion
cabin rental at Marengo Cave

Cabins at Marengo Cave

Marengo Cave Campground offers four camping cabins:

  • Cabin 1 – sleeps 10
  • Cabin 2- sleeps 10
  • Cabin 3 – sleeps 8
  • Cabin 4 – sleeps 14

Cabin guests need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, and toiletries. There is a minimum of 2 nights stay from March-October.

The cabins are pet-friendly and have AC/ central heat.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

You Can Sleep Underground in Marengo Cave

The Night in a Cave (NIC) sleepovers in Marengo Cave offer guests an unforgettable overnight for ages 10+ and groups of 12 or more.

*Cave Overnight requires at least 2 weeks advance notice.

There are four different overnight package options to choose from.

Night in Cave (NIC) #1

  • Crystal Palace
  • Dripstone Trail
  • The Crawl
  • Camping Underground
  • Movie
  • Team Building
  • Breakfast in the Grotto Banquet Hall
  • Gemstone Mining
  • The Mega Maze

Night in Cave (NIC) #2

  • Crystal Palace
  • Dripstone Trail
  • Underground Adventure
  • Masher or Crawl
  • Camping Underground
  • Team Building
  • Breakfast in the Grotto Banquet Hall

Night in Cave (NIC) #3

  • Crystal Palace
  • Dripstone Trail
  • Waterfall Crawl
  • Masher or Crawl
  • Camping Underground
  • Team Building
  • Breakfast in the Grotto Banquet Hall

Night in Cave (NIC) #4

  • Crystal Palace
  • Dripstone Trail
  • Beyond the Falls
  • Masher or Crawl
  • Breakfast in the Grotto Banquet Hall
  • Camping Underground
  • Team Building
Marengo Cave in Indiana

Where is Marengo Cave Located?

Marengo Cave is located at 400 East State Rd 64, Marengo, IN.

Marengo Cave in Indiana

Hotels and Vacation Rentals Near Marengo Cave

If you prefer other options for overnight accommodation there are hotels and vacation rentals nearby too.

Sweet Shop at Marengo Cave

Where to Eat Near Marengo Cave

Onsite at Marengo Cave, there is the Sweet Shop open from April- October. This is a great spot to grab a snack or your candy of choice.

Van's Restaurant Marengo IN

Van’s Country Table – 270 IN-64, Marengo, IN (1 minute/ .2 miles)

If you’re looking for a good home-cooked meal you’ll definitely want to stop at Van’s Country Table before or after your visit to Marengo Cave.

beef Manhattan Van's Restaurant Marengo IN

We opted for the beef Manhattan special and the fried chicken.

fried chicken at Van's Restaurant Marengo IN

Van’s Restaurant serves up American cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner

cole slaw at Van's Restaurant Marengo IN

Coleslaw is typically hit or miss for me and I really liked it. It’s chopped really fine and a little sweet.

homemade pie at Van's Restaurant Marengo IN

Make sure that you save room for their homemade pie. It’s even better warmed up with a scoop of ice cream on top.

Another Local Restaurant

The Overlook Restaurant & Walter’s Pub (19 minutes away) – this restaurant offers American cuisine and a 20-mile panoramic vista of the Ohio River.

boat tour at Bluesprings Cavern Park

Additional Caves to Explore in Indiana

The state of Indiana has several additional caves that you can visit.

Thunderbird at Holiday World

Nearby Adventures

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