Lost River Caverns

Lost River Caverns

You know how some days just work? Limited effort but heaps of fun? It all goes so suspiciously smoothly, without anyone really planning, worrying or even trying. It’s like the “Mom God” in the sky looked down and said, “Hey, I’m gonna’ give you a break today.”

Well, we had one of those days recently, and it was at Lost River Caverns in Hellertown.

My kids and I had a free afternoon so we rounded up a few friends and headed off. To be honest, my expectations were kind of low. I was looking for someplace temperature cool… plain and simple. I could no longer do one more afternoon at the local pool. Another movie – nope. We needed to spice it up a bit so where else can we go that is cool? A cavern!

Lost River Caverns is easy enough to find and fairly inexpensive but the best thing is, you will stop in your tracks when you enter the building. It is like you entered another world. It is a wacky hodge podge of craziness.

Where else can you find a taxidermied giraffe AND jewelry cleaner? How about a gun collection on display and shark teeth for sale? Collector toy cars, sand dollars and chisels – got ‘em. A full jungle scene complete with waterfall and fish? Check. Wood glue, jewelry making supplies and an anvil – yep. And all of that takes a back seat to the life-sized velociraptor looking over the gift shop.

Once you can drag yourself away from the visual stimulation that is Gilman’s Store, you take the tour. The cavern tour itself was interesting for sure. To start, it is 52 degrees. As you descend into the cavern, your kids become very quiet. It is not spooky, but it is just different enough that it catches them off guard a little. And if you miss the days when your daughter held your hand willingly, take her to a cavern and she’ll slip her hand in yours.

The tour guide will regale you with stories of the past. One part of the cavern has hosted over 100 weddings. One part of the cavern was used as a local dance hall, complete with an elevated place for the band to play.

The guide will introduce you to Oscar the Turtle who is made of flowstone and his counterpart Willie the Whale. They’ll let you dip your hand in the water to see just how cold it is, and they will turn out the lights. You think you know dark? You don’t know dark until you experience “Cavern Dark.” Then the guide will start to throw cavern-isms at you. Did you know stalagmites grow 1” every 150 years? I did not. Did you know that when you shine an ultraviolet light on different rocks, they shine in different colors? I didn’t know that either. (“They are like Rock Stars,” I giggled to my kids. They didn’t find that funny. Tough crowd that day.) Did you know that they still, to this day, do not know where the lost river starts nor ends? Frustrating, but true.

When the 40-minute tour ends, you ascend, pay your admission (yep, you do it after the tour) and you are routed back into Gilman’s Store. Then, as a parent, you hang your head because you know you are going to lose the battle. Every wacky thing your kids wanted to buy before the tour, you could shrug off by saying, “No, we are not schlepping that around the whole tour.” But, AFTER the tour, you buy a rock with googly eyes on it, edible chocolate rocks and rock candy (when in Rome…), and you hit the road to explore some more.

The rest of the afternoon we spent outside. The kids panned for minerals, we strolled around, we took some pictures, but then we hit the jackpot. We found the picnic grove. Now this picnic grove is really nothing to write home about, but it had a key element for hours of afternoon fun. It had a stream. Not too deep that parents worry, but deep enough that the kids can walk through it, hunt for minnows, and let’s face it, just get wet.

Lost River Caverns is easy enough to find and fairly inexpensive but the best thing is, you will stop in your tracks when you enter the building.

It was here that we hunkered down. It was the perfect summer afternoon. The moms and I were proud of ourselves for taking the kids on a little impromptu educational “field trip”, and the kids were happy because they were all together in a stream. And hours passed. No one threw rocks at each other, there was no tattling, and there was limited blood. We had time to catch up, share some summer stories and a little bit of juicy gossip. The kids replaced their iPods with sticks and rocks, and afternoon TV was trumped by building dams in the stream.

And thank you to Lost River Caverns. You provided a great venue. Nine kids, three moms, and hours of just hanging out. That is what summer is all about.

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