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Lost River Cave  

Lost River Cave is a seven-mile cave system located in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The Lost River originates outside of the cave and flows into it. The cave contains one of the largest natural entrances in the Eastern U.S. Boat tours available year-round but are closed for Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The river was once listed by Ripley’s Believe it or Not as the “Shortest, deepest river in the world” because the blue hole is over 437 feet deep, while the river is only 400 feet long. The blue spot is only 16 feet deep and linked to a further underground river. The 72-acre cave property is jointly owned by Western Kentucky University and the non-profit Friends of Lost River Cave.

First Inhabitants 

Archaeologists at Western Kentucky University have uncovered a significant history of human presence dating from the Paleo-Indians at the end of the last ice age 10,000 years ago. The cave and the valley provided area inhabitants with shelter and safe and plentiful food and water sources.  Ten thousand years ago, the Kentucky climate was more relaxed and wetter. The landscape supported an evergreen forest. The Paleo-Indian Cultural Tradition, also known as “big game hunters,” roamed the woods for food and shelter. These humans utilized Clovis spear points to bring down such animals as the giant ground sloth, the woolly mammoth, and the mastodon. The inhabitants were nomadic groups, moving between different campsites seasonally. Anthropologist Jack Schock of Western Kentucky University believes that these prehistoric Kentucky tribes camped at Lost River Cave in the winter, enjoying shelter from the cave and clean water from the blue hole.  Starting around 8,000 B.C., during the Archaic period in North America, the inhabitants began exploiting the environment more organized fashion. Dr. Schock discovered one of the only Dalton points found in situ in southeastern Kentucky at Lost River. This spear point, dated around 8,000 years old, is a rare find, making Lost River an important archaeological site for studying the Archaic period. These native groups occupied the Cave region until around 1,000 B.C. A1 Pest Control of Bowling Green


The two-part tour is 45 minutes long. The first part consists of a guided walking tour along the river, the blue hole, and the cave entrance. This offers an opportunity to learn about the region’s natural and human history. The second part of the tour is conducted on the boat and allows visitors to explore the cave inside.  Lost River Cave contains two event venues. The Historic Lost River Cave Ballroom is located in the cave, on the site of the Cavern Nite Club. The River Birch Meeting Room, located adjacent to the visitor center, contains restrooms, a kitchen, and a big screen TV. Both venues are available for event rentals.  The park includes approximately two miles of nature trails, which are admission-free. The trails are part of the Bowling Green-Warren County Greenways program. Other activities include a seasonal butterfly habitat, gem mining, geocaching, bird watching, and bird bingo. Binoculars can be checked out in the visitor’s center. The park includes a Young Interpreters program, an outdoor classroom, and children’s activities.

Address: 2818 Nashville Rd, Bowling Green, KY


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