Cave of the Mounds
Mount Horeb Visitors
When you think about national monuments, you probably think
Grand Canyon or Niagra Falls and an airplane trip. But a great
monument awaits two hours north of Chicago in Blue Mounds, Wis.
Cave of the Mounds welcomes visitors to tour its wondrous depths
365 days a year, without any hard-core spelunking.
The hour-long Family Walking Tour follows paved and lighted
pathways, making this an easy exploration. A tour guide points out
spectacular rock formations, natural pools and even embedded
fossils. Kids love the discovery of "cave bacon" and a "witch's
finger," while being hit with lucky "cave kisses."
The cave is almost all "no touch" to preserve its natural
wonder, but photos are encouraged. Guides provide information and
anecdotes and will answer any questions you have. The colors and
textures in the cave are so amazing it almost feels like a film set
instead of a natural wonder, eliciting very real "oohs and aahs"
At ground level you can explore prairie rocks and flowers in the
park's gardens and trails. Picnic grounds provide a beautiful
resting spot. Food and drink are available from the snack bar. At
the Gemstone Mine and Fossil Dig, you buy what looks like a bag of
sand, only to discover precious gems and authentic fossils you can
identify and keep. (If you don't feel like sluicing your own, the
museum shop stocks thousands of rock, mineral, gem and fossil
Cave of the Mounds is open weekdays 9 a.m.-5 p.m. and weekends 9
Within minutes of Cave of the Mounds, you can visit the town of
Mount Horeb (Troll Capital of the World) and Little Norway, a
19th-century pioneer homestead, which is home to the Norway
Building, exhibited at the Chicago Columbian Exhibition World Fair
in 1893. Little Norway is open daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Mount Horeb
hosts a Fall Heritage Festival, Oct. 3-4, complete with live
entertainment, horse and buggy rides and Pumpkins on Parade.
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