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Lost River Cave: An Overview of Kentucky’s Only Underground Boat Tour

This past month, my family found ourselves in Bowling Green to explore Kentucky’s only underground boat tour.

Visiting the Lost River Cave in Bowling Green, Kentucky's only underground boat tour

I’m not a stranger to Kentucky’s Cave Country. When my husband and I were married, we spent part of our honeymoon in the area. We had hoped to tour Mammoth Cave National Park, but arrived in the peak of summer, also the height of tourist season, to find the tours sold out for the day. You can learn from our mistake and take a few minutes to reserve your tour in advance to ensure you aren’t disappointed like we were. And while you’re making reservations, check out the wigwam motel in Cave City that would make a fun, unique place to stay when visiting Bowling Green too. 

Lucky for us, we found a flyer for another nearby, but smaller, Onyx Horse Cave. We were able to see stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations, so it appeased us. The area seems to lure us back time and again- we’ve returned several times to explore.  I love the people, the hospitality and the fun attractions in the general region, which includes Bowling Green.

Since I have had an opportunity to explore several of the area caves, I knew I couldn’t miss the Lost River Cave, and our visit did not disappoint.

We arrived a half-hour before the first 45-minute tour and headed directly to the gift shop where you can purchase tickets. I was surprised to find that the first tour was nearly full. Reservations are not accepted, so I’d suggest that you arrive early and if the first tour is full, you can grab tickets for the second which is offered an hour later. The property offers marked Nature Trails, a Butterfly Habitat and Treasure Mining (at certain times in the season) that you can explore before or after your tour.

Unique gifts inside the gift shop of the Lost River Cave, Kentucky's only underground boat tour

You can also spend time looking and shopping in the gift shop which offers lots of shabby chic décor, garden ware, jewelry, unique gifts, and educational items for the kids. Since we were early, my daughter and I took the opportunity to visit the restroom since you can’t go on the tour. The bathroom was the cutest bathroom I have ever seen. I wanted to take a picture, but there were other people in there with us so I didn’t think it would be quite appropriate.

heading to the start of the tour at the Lost River Cave, Kentucky's only underground boat tour

We rejoined the rest of our family who were waiting for us outside on the deck and followed the directions given to us which was to follow the paved trail until we came to a bridge. We were to cross the bridge and walk until we stumbled upon a group of confused looking people. It was here that we were joined by our tour guide and where our tour began.

Our tour guide was awesome. I won’t spoil the details of the tour for you, but I will share just a few tidbits. Our tour began at the bridge with a short 20-minute walk to the cave entrance. Along the way we stopped to learn the colorful history of the property which dates back hundreds of years. The valley has been occupied by Indians, Civil War soldiers (both Confederate and Union armies) and an outlaw. It was also used as a very popular dance club in the 1930’s.

A blue hole at the Lost River Cave, Kentucky's only underground boat tour

You’ll find several blue holes along the trail- one was once thought to be bottomless which led to the verification of the Lost River Cave as the shortest and deepest river in the world by Ripley of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Surprisingly the never-ending blue hole doesn’t come close to bottomless, but the tale sure makes for a great story- which is only one of the fun stories you’ll hear at Lost River Cave.

Inside the Lost River Cave, Kentucky's only underground boat tour

At the end of the trail, we boarded our boat and began our journey into the cave. Listen carefully to your guide, as the ceiling of the cave where you enter and exit is extremely low. You’ll need to duck before it opens into a cavern with plenty of space to sit upright. This cave isn’t full of formations like you may see in other area caves, but the boat ride certainly makes up for that.

The Lost River Cave is a treat and a stop that my family thoroughly enjoyed! If you’re in the area, this really is an attraction worth checking out.

Where to find the Lost River Cave

Physical Address: 2818 Nashville Road Bowling Green, KY 42101
Phone: 270-393-0077
Cost: See the website for current pricing. 
Hours: Open 7 days a week, visit the website for more information.

Tips for Visiting the Lost River Cave

Tips for Visiting the Lost River Cave

  1. Tours are contingent upon water level. If there’s been a lot of recent rain, tours may be cancelled so check the website.
  2. Tours sell out so make sure you arrive plenty early to purchase tickets. I’d suggest an hour to an hour and a half during the summer months.
  3. There is no age limit for the tour, but the tour is probably best suited for those aged 4 (with a good attention span) and up.
  4. The cave is a constant 57 degrees year round so make sure you have a light jacket.
  5. Make sure you wear your comfortable, non-slip walking shoes. No flip flops allowed on this tour.
  6. There’s plenty of room here to spread out and explore. You can pack a picnic lunch or grab a bit to eat down the street at the Lost River Pizza Co., another stop my family enjoyed.
  7. Allow an hour to an hour and a half to do the cave tour which includes walking to meet up with the tour guide and the short walk back to your car. Allow a longer period of time to explore the grounds more fully.
  8. If you don’t have time for a tour, but are looking for a place to stop and stretch your legs, you’re welcome to walk the trails at no charge. Just make sure you stay on the trail- we saw a couple snakes just off the path.
  9. There is ample parking so if you’re traveling with your RV, don’t hesitate to stop.

Did you read the overview of my family’s visit to Bowling Green? What attractions would you be most likely to visit?

Thank you to the Bowling Green CVB for arranging my family’s visit to Bowling Green and to the Lost River Cave for providing tickets to my family for review purposes. As always, all opinions are my own. 


Monday 14th of March 2016

This sounds like a wonderful get away weekend trip. Weather is warming up.I will put this one on my last to do this spring. !


Sunday 4th of May 2014

I was with you until you said snakes! But really, what a fun place to check out!

Kelly @ Texas Type A Mom

Saturday 3rd of May 2014

An underground boat tour sounds like such a once in a lifetime experience. I can't say I've ever heard of something like that before!

Eleanor B

Friday 2nd of May 2014

For those concerned about the low ceiling, it's just at the mouth of the cave. It opens up into a much more open space very quickly! Not sure if they still have it, but when our kids were in elementary school we bought a bag of rocks the kids could "pan" at the cave. We used the rocks to make a stepping stone and still have it even though we've moved 3 times since living in BG.


Tuesday 13th of May 2014

Sounds like the stepping stone is the perfect souvenir for a perfect day. :)

Singapore Mum Blog

Sunday 27th of April 2014

ohhhh I would love to check out such caves!! And on a boat too!! Nice! Protection Status
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