Did you know there were caves in Florida?
Cave diving is popular at many of the Florida springs, but Florida Caverns State Park is the only dry cave open to the public. Behind a heavy metal door awaits exploration into another world.
How did these caves form?
Millions of years ago, sea levels were much higher leaving a majority of the coastal areas underwater. Over the years, as sea levels fell, debris on the sea floor hardened into limestone which was dissolved by naturally acidic groundwater, thus creating crevices large enough to walk through. The process is still occurring today when rainwater drips through the cracks forming beautiful stalactites, stalagmites and other various formations.
How were they discovered?
Funny story. A tree is uprooted in the forest, leaving a large hole in the earth, do you climb down that hole? That’s exactly what Oliver Chalifoux, a National Park Services geologist, did, leading to his discovery of the incredible the cave system below.
The area was already being developed by the Civilian Conservation Corps, who are responsible for many of the Florida State Parks. It was then that their efforts moved underground, working tirelessly in dark, damp and cramped conditions to open the park to the public.
Dazzling stalagmites rise from the floor meeting stalactites hanging from the ceiling. It’s easy to maneuver around them now, but can you imagine doing it in the dark? These were just some of the hazards facing the workers. To help reflect light, they plastered porcelain dishes to the ceiling. They are still there to this day.
Guided tours are offered throughout the week and last about 45 minutes. Be sure to call ahead, as tours do fill up quickly.
It was a fascinating tour providing an educational history of the area, state parks, and Florida cave system. The guides also have names for many of the different formations from ‘cave bacon’ to ‘Titanic’ to ‘The Cathedral.’
Do you see why?
Once you emerge from the underground cave, walk around the grounds; the scenery is beautiful.
Pro Tip: Bring a jacket or sweater, it can be a bit chilly. Don’t you love my husband’s Florida Caverns State Park hoodie 🙂