Caves of the United States
A cave, or cavern, is a naturally occurring underground opening formed in a region's bedrock. There are several different types of caves that are categorized by the way they formed.
Sea caves are formed by the ocean's waves slowly eroding spots in the shoreline.
A lava tube, or primary cave, is formed at the same time as the bedrock and not by erosion. As lava flows, the outer surface cools and becomes solid as hot liquid lava continues to flow inside. When the flow completely drains and cools, a cave remains.
Solutional caves are by far the most common type of cave in the U.S. They are formed when mildly acidic water interacts with a soft rock such as limestone.
You can visit lava tubes in Hawaii, sea caves in Oregon, and solutional caves in all of the karst regions of the United States.
Cave attractions in the northwest include Sea Lion Caves in Oregon and Black Chasm, California Caverns, Lake Shasta Caverns, Mercer Caverns, and Moaning Caverns all located in California.
The northeastern United States is home to many caves that are opened to the public. Howe Caverns in New York and Luray Caverns in Virginia are two of the most popular.
The center of the United States is home to many show caves. Caverns of Sonora in Texas, Blanchard Springs Caverns in Arkansas, and Meramec Caverns and Fantastic Caverns in Missouri are some of the more popular caves in the center of the country.
Most caves in the southeast are focused along the mountains of Tennessee, Kentucky, and North Carolina. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky and Ruby Falls in Tennessee are two of the most visited in the region.