Where Learning Goes Underground
I was in Maryland when I got lost and drove aimlessly, little did I notice that I was already in Pennsylvania after my GPS from my car announced and welcomed me to the state from Maryland. Then, I saw the signage on the side of the road and it read Laurel Caverns. I was drawn to it and at that time, I have decided to come and see what’s in it for me. It was almost an hour and a half drive from Oakland, Maryland. I arrived at Laurel Caverns at 1430H. Parking is free and I went inside the visitor center and took one of the brochures and I got a little excited since I really didn’t know what to expect. I found out that Laurel Caverns is Pennsylvania’s largest cave. I went to find the staff and asked what they offer and told me about a tour in the cave. I automatically said, ‘sign me in for the tour where learning goes underground.’
Laurel Caverns as I mentioned is Pennsylvania’s largest cave located in route 40 east of Uniontown. For travelers to get to Laurel Caverns, just put this address in GPS: 101 Skyline Drive, Farmington, PA 15437 that will get to the intersection of Skyline Drive and Route 40. It has Norman E. Cale Visitor’s Center which serves as a souvenir shop, tour meeting point, snack area, restrooms and changing rooms for caving gear.
Laurel Caverns offers 4 tours, namely the traditional one hour tour, upper caving tours, lower caving tours and half-day and all-day educational tour. I chose the traditional one hour tour. Admission fee costs USD12 for adult. For more information about the cavern, visit this site at www.laurelcaverns.com.
I took the one hour tour for the reason that I don’t have the whole day to explore the cave and I’m not a certified cave explorer. Anyway, the traditional one hour tour is the most popular since it is suitable for all ages. It has a guide and tour starts every 20 minutes with the last tour of the day enters the cave at 1630H. This tour is not advisable though for schools and large groups wanting a private guide. That’s the reason they have the half-day and all-day educational programs which include rappelling classes, cave study excursions, BSA and GSA speleology, geology and forestry patches, badges and pins. But visitors need to call in ahead because this tour is only available every Saturday and other days by special arrangements.
The traditional tour lasts about 55 minutes seeing Laurel Caverns as a natural cave which follows the natural slope of the mountain. The tour may be strenuous for some. The cave temperature is 52 degrees Fahrenheit year round so, a sweater or jacket should be worn. Non-slippery shoes are also important and never wear high heels to a cave. These are the photos I captured when I was down in the cave, spelunking.The whole cave experience was amazing. I used to visit caves back in the Philippines and the Middle East but Laurel Caverns has been made accessible and more of a touristy vibe with the colorful lights. With the aid of the guide, cave explorers like me were able to navigate the different routes in the cave and were able to get important information and history as we go along with the tour. Indeed, Laurel Caverns is where learning goes underground.