Ask Cavers: What Makes a Great Show Cave Tour?

June 19, 2013
Inside the Vietnam'sPhong Nha Caves.

Inside the Vietnam’s Phong Nha Caves. Photo by Mountain/\Ash/flickr

While reading through the loads of the positive reviews of the recently opened Indiana Caverns, it got us wondering, what exactly makes a great cave tour?

Is it enthusiastic guides who are cavers themselves, unique and outstanding formations, an informative scripts, or something else?

Think about the best cave tour you’ve been on and let us know what made it special.

Let us know in the comments below.

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Comments (5)

  1. Lee
    June 20, 2013 at 10:17 am

    Coves del Drac (Mallorca, Spain) has over one million visitors each year (according to ticket sales). Tour groups typically contain hundreds of people, and each tour enters the cave through a man-made entrance, winding down through the tremendously decorated rooms toward the water table. Everyone sits on amphitheater-style benches in a large room, and a short explanation of the cave is given in a few different languages once everyone is seated. The lights dim, and from out of sight, three boats with twinkle lights emerge, playing a classical concert. This has been the tradition since 1935! When the concert concludes as the boats float out of sight, the lights slowly come back on, and tourists have the option to board boats for a portion of the remainder of the tour, or walk the entire way out, through the natural (collapse) cave entrance. []

  2. June 20, 2013 at 8:43 pm

    I have been a cave guide in 3 caves for the past 10 years across North America – 1 in Pennsylvania, 1 in Texas, and 1 on Vancouver Island. I have been to 50 of America’s show caves. I find that the guide is a huge contributor. If the guide loves the cave and is informative then the tour will be enjoyable. I’ve been in some of the Country’s biggest caves with horrible guides and loved the cave, but didn’t love the tour. I’ve also been in show caves that are in somebody’s backyard, but since the guide loved what he/she was doing – I loved the tour. It never hurts to throw in some cave humor, though it may leave some in the dark. I guess some people take good cave tours for granite.

    • Caving News
      June 20, 2013 at 11:00 pm

      I see what you did there. 🙂

  3. Ann
    June 21, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    Training cavern interpreters differs greatly from one show cave to another and I agree that the guide can make or break the tour. At Lincoln Caverns we offer a wide variety of educational programs, mostly to children, so our staff members must possess a great deal of patience and control with tact. We train with an outline & background information, rather than a script, enabling our staff to be adaptable to all types of tours & groups. And of course, it is our goal to work with them so they learn to do this well and convey the importance of caves and cave conservation to all our visitors.

  4. Rodney Tennyson
    August 30, 2013 at 9:35 pm

    I have toured numerous show caves from Tenneesee to the Ozarks, the best have well informed guides that interact with the group. The worst are guides that ‘make up’ how they think the cave formed, or are obviously bored with their summer jobs. I like to just be at the back of the pack and try to enjoy the cave. On more than one occasion, having talked to folks in the group before the tour and revealed myself as a caver, I have been asked about cave development and formations. On one occasion, on a tour of Blanchard Springs, one of the guides knew my wife and I and introduced us to the rest of the group as ‘experts’. More than a little embarassing.


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