Hidden River Cave: Adventure to the Sunset Dome
I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve been wanting to get out of the house. Traveling out of region isn’t an option, as I want to keep myself and others as safe as possible during this pandemic. Luckily, I live in western Kentucky, which means there are all sorts of open-air adventures within the area! Today’s adventure focuses on revisiting one of my favorite Kentucky destinations: Hidden River Cave.
“But wait, KB! Haven’t you written about Hidden River Cave already?” Lol yup. BUT! The great folks at Hidden River Cave have been hard at work since my last visit to make the already awesome public cave tour even more awesome by expanding the tour significantly to reach the coolest of cool cave destinations: the Sunset Dome.
Plus, this trip was made even more wonderful because my friend and frequent collaborator Cameron (of Cameron Hesson Photography) came along to face his fear of suspension bridges and take stunning pictures. As usual, special thanks to Cameron for the images used in this post.
Why the Sunset Dome is such a big deal
The Sunset Dome in Hidden River Cave is a large passageway that hasn’t been accessible to the public in around 75 years. Back then, you’d have to be prepared to make quite the journey through mud, down and up a large ravine where the river runs, and with very limited light. Now, the American Cave Museum has made the journey to the Sunset Dome much easier with lighted pathways and a large suspension bridge. In fact, the suspension bridge is the longest underground suspension bridge in the world – tick that off the bucket list!
Sunset Dome is absolutely humongous. Like, you can fit an entire plane in there and still have room for activities. It’s seriously incredible. Sunset Dome is named for, you guessed it, its resemblance to a sunset. From the shape of the dome to the yellow, orange, and red hues of the rocks, this expansive dome truly is breathtaking.
Visiting Hidden River Cave
Visitors can see the Sunset Dome, walk the suspension bridge, and see other equally cool but smaller domes on the Public Cave Tour. This tour costs $22 for adults, $12 for children, and there are military discounts. Tours last around an hour and run hourly from 8 am until 5 pm in the summers, and 8 am until 3 pm other seasons. Reservations are not required.
The Public Cave Tour includes roughly 230 steps either way and is not handicap accessible. I recommend wearing comfortable shoes since there are so many steps. I also suggest bringing a jacket, as the temperature inside the cave stays around 60 degrees year round. Since Hidden River Cave is (spoiler alert) a river cave, it sometimes floods. I recommend calling ahead if it’s been raining a lot to make sure you are able to explore the cave.
Tickets also include entry to the American Cave Museum. I’m seriously obsessed with the exhibits, y’all! They range from how caves form to cave creatures to cave conservation and even the Cave Wars that once ravaged this area.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: Hidden River Cave is a gem! We are seriously SO lucky to have it here in the Bluegrass. I’ve loved each and every one of my visits to this cave and always manage to learn something new. They have something for every level of explorer, which makes it the perfect destination to try something new. I can’t wait for my next adventure with them.