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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips. 

Caves are figuratively and literally cool.

As natural voids below the surface, caves offer a chill refuge on hot days, a place to marvel at unique rock formations and ancient stalagtites. National Cave Week, June 6-12, celebrates these natural wonders, and as nod to that, we’ve rounded up the some of America’s coolest caves to explore, spelunk, and simply admire.

RELATED: 10 once-in-a-lifetime bucket list adventures for couples

Ruby Falls Cavern: Tennessee

The Volunteer State is home to 10,000 caves, more than any other in the country. Thanks to its surreal underground waterfall, Ruby Falls in Chattanooga is probably the favorite. Located deep inside Lookout Mountain, the cave is undeniably commercial—tickets cost $23 per adult, $13 per child—but that hasn’t stopped hundreds of thousands from marveling at it since it was first discovered in 1928.

Find a great Chattanooga hotel here.

Luray Caverns: Virginia

Luray Caverns, about two hours west of Washington, D.C., is one the largest caverns in the eastern United States. Discovered in 1878, it’s also one of the oldest. The 1.5 mile, 45 minute underground trail is full of columns, stalactites, stalagmites, and mirrored pools. Like Ruby Falls, the caverns are considered a tad costly at $30 per adult, but not enough to keep the adoring crowds away.

Find hotels near Luray Caverns here.

Lehman Caves: Nevada

Located within Great Basin National Park, Lehman Caves are home to over 300 rare “shield” formations, more than any other cave in the world. Accessible only by guided ranger tours, the caves extend for two miles and come highly recommended. Although the park itself is free to visitors, tickets to the caves cost $12 per adult, $6 per child over five.

Find the perfect place to stay near Lehman Caves here.

Meramec Caverns: Missouri

Sometimes called the “Cave State,” Missouri is home to some of the most notable caverns in the country—Marvel Cave and Fantastic Caverns very much included. But it’s best known and most popular cave is clearly Meramec, one of the largest commercial caves in America. Highlights include over four miles of trails, the underwater “Wine Table,” and LED light shows projected across the outsized formations. Plus, Meramec once served as a hideout for outlaw Jesse James.

Book your accommodations near Meramec Caverns right here. 

Ape Cave: Washington

The Pacific Northwest isn’t known for its caves, but there is one in particular that gets high marks from visitors. As one of the largest lava tubes on the continent, Ape Cave stretches over two miles underground and could easily pass as a giant worm hole from Star Wars. Tickets cost $2 each and reservations are required.

Find a wonderful place to stay near Ape Cave here.

Natural Bridge Caverns: Texas

Discovered in 1960 by four college students, Natural Bridge Caverns features a popular, one mile tour of the largest cave in Texas. Lit by state-of-the-art LED technology, guided tours run a little over an hour and are highly-rated. If visiting West Texas, also consider The Caverns of Sonora, a small but well-rated National Landmark.

Book a great hotel near Natural Bridge Caverns here.

Timpanogos Cave: Utah

The Beehive State is well-known for its skiing and red rock canyons. But it’s also home to one of the most spectacular caves in the country, and you’ll find it at Timpanogos Cave National Monument. The mountainside cave is as good as any on this list, but the beautiful and steep 1.-mile hike up to it really makes it standout. Open May to September.

Find your accommodations near Timpanogos Cave right here.

Mammoth Cave: Kentucky

Welcome to the largest cave system in the entire world. With over 400 miles of passageways and 10 different tours, Mammoth Cave National Park more than lives up to its name. Situated in the Green River Valley, its oversized chambers, mirror pools, and limestone labyrinths are as otherworldly as they are eerie. If you love caving, this must be on your bucket list.

Find a great hotel near Mammoth Cave here.

Carlsbad Caverns: New Mexico

Although not the biggest, Carlsbad Caverns are probably the most beloved caves in the entire country. Featuring both self-guided and ranger-led tours, highlights of Carlsbad Caverns National Park include more than 100 caves, the Big Room cavern chamber, the 750-foot Natural Entrance trail, and bat tours from May through October. If you visit only one cave, make it this one.

Book the perfect to stay near Carlsbad Caverns here.

About the author: Blake Snow contributes to fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a bodacious writer-for-hire and frequent travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his supportive family and their “bullador beagle.”

Tagged: California, New Mexico, Tennessee, Top 10 Lists, Virginia, Washington DC

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake writes for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a seasoned writer-for-hire and energetic travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his loving family and loyal dog, and hopes to visit all seven continents someday.

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