Another weekend, another adventure with HazelEyesMom.com
This time we visited Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds, WI. A natural limestone cave located just outside of Madison, Wisconsin and only a few scenic hours away from Chicago. The beauty of this National Natural Landmark and it’s many varieties of mineral formations can be enjoyed not only below ground, but above as well.
Let me show you!
Our visit was sponsored by Cave of the Mounds but all opinions are my own.
WHAT IS THIS PLACE?
Cave of the Mounds was originally a dairy farm that dates back to 1800s. Because of it’s history, over time, they developed a close relationship with Department of Agriculture and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1903 they turned part of the farm into a limestone quarry and had University of Wisconsin and University of Chicago Geology students visit the quarry to study fossils. In 1939 during one of their scheduled quarry blasts, they accidentally discovered, what is known as, Cave of the Mounds. By 1940, it was opened to the public because they wanted this natural, scenic wonder accessible to all. And boy am I glad they did.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO GO?
Cave of the mounds is usually open all year round, 9A-5PM, and weather is not a factor. However, if you want to enjoy the beauty of their perennial gardens, butterflies and woodlands – spring, summer and fall may be the best time to visit. Winter hours may be limited to weekends only. Check before you go.
WHAT SHOULD WE KNOW BEFORE GOING?
- Plan your trip in advance. You can purchase tickets online or at Cave of the Mounds.
- Give yourself ample time to explore and enjoy the grounds.
- Rent ($10), purchase or bring your own black light! It makes a big difference.
- Wear close toe, comfortable, shoes.
- Bring a sweater. It is cold in the cave.
- Take pictures.
- Do NOT bring backpacks into the cave. The parking lot is close. You can go back and grab or drop off anything you need.
- You can purchase beverages and snacks throughout the property but bring a lunch. Stay a while. Have a picnic.
HOW MUCH TIME DO WE NEED?
Cave of the Mounds is a self guided tour. Once you are inside, you can stay as long as your curiosity desires. Take your time to soak it all in. Stop and read all about the history. Take pictures. There are very knowledgeable tour guides within the cave at every corner to help you answer any questions. But be respectful of everyone’s time and space. Arrive early to beat the rush and plan for at least 1 hour in the cave itself. However, to get the full experience of this National Natural Landmark, give yourself at least 3 hours. This will allow you not only visit the cave but also walk the trails, check out the sinkholes, take in the gardens and explore some fossil sites as well.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE TO DO BESIDES THE CAVE?
Once you are done with your Cave Experience, stop at their gift shop and grab a souvenir or two. Purchase a geode to crack onsite or a bag of FOSSIL dig to sift through at their mining sluice. We got some amazing pieces and treasures for life. Including shark teeth!
NOTE: the genuine gemstone, rock and mineral specimens from the GEM mine come from all over the world. As a protected National Natural Landmark nothing is removed from the Cave of the Mounds. Some of the fossils found in the fossil dig range from 500 million to 60,000 years old.
After that, you can head on and visit one of their stunning trails, walking paths, sink holes and more. Get up close and be in awe of some of their 200+ year old oak trees, fossil hunt, bird observation area and never ending beauty.
CAN I MAKE THIS A WEEKEND TRIP?
While I don’t think you need a full weekend to explore the Cave of the Mounds, I do know you can spend a whole weekend in this area. There are so many other wonderful places to visit and slough of fun things to do while here. You can easily stay at one of their local hotels or venture out to Madison, WI for a day as well. It is only a 30 minutes drive and also one of HazelEyesMom approved family destinations.
New Glarus, America’s Little Switzerland, is another HazelEyesMom approved town just 20 minutes away from the Cave of the mounds that is worth a stop. Full of culture and European influences. Plus it has one of Wisconsin’s best breweries, New Glarus Brewing.
But the most fun place to stop in for lunch and to add to your bucket list while at the Cave of the Mounds, would be Mount Horeb. It is known as the Troll Capital of the World as well as the Mustard Capital of the World. I mean, come on! How fun is this?!
For a full list of local attractions, please visit www.caveofthemounds.com/plan-your-visit/area-attractions/.
FUN FACTS ABOUT #COTM
- The Cave is over 1 million years old
- It takes approximately 100 years for cave onyx to grow 1 inch
- The Cave is made of natural limestone called galena dolomite
- It is also known as “Wisconsin’s Oldest Classroom”
- Over 59,000 people came to visit the Cave in the first 8 weeks of operation
- The Cave is the same temperature every day – 50 degrees F
- but it is warm in the winter and cool in the summer
I would 100% recommend Cave of the Mounds. Perfect destination to visit with family, friends, on a date or just to unwind by yourself. It is close enough to Chicago to make it a day trip but also far enough to get away for the weekend. Great place to learn the history of the geologic formation of the Cave of the Mounds, look for fossils, visit the prairie restoration, stroll the rock gardens and look for sinkholes. There is a reason why this is called Wisconsin’s Oldest Classroom. You can learn something new with every visit.
So, what are you waiting for? Book your trip asap and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram #explorewithdee