The area surrounding our campsite offers lots to do for families. My very favorite place we stopped was the Crystal Grottoes, a cavern that has been owned by the same family for 3 generations and offers daily tours. We pulled up to a picturesque old storefront. Cows were grazing across a stream. While we waited for our tour to begin, the kids were completely entertained by the small trickle of water that flowed from the building into the nearby stream.
When it was time for the tour, we filed down a narrow staircase into what would normally be a basement. Instead, we found ourselves standing in a cave. Our tour guide was amazing. He switched effortlessly between scientific discussions about geology, to telling us which rock formations looked like a king, or an alligator, or an elephant...
He explained how the caverns were discovered in 1920, and how they have been digging it out ever since, bucket at a time, sometimes with shovels, but just as often by hand. Yesterday alone they removed 25 buckets full of dirt and clay, to expose still more formations.
We learned about the critters that live down here too, but they were hiding. There are a few bats, frogs, and lizards. But the thing that astounded me the most is a honeysuckle root that our guide points out. It has burrowed 70 feet underground.
My cave explorers look happy, don't they? We wandered from room to room, down windy hallways that were fortunately quite well lit. On this particular day (after an amazingly hard rain) it was a little wet down there. One room is under water, but the rest we can get too quite easily. We traveled to a final depth of about 80 feet underground. It was cool, and quiet, and peaceful. After a while, I had no idea where we were. Our tour guide pointed us to different paths, where he tells us it's about a 6 hour trek back. No thanks. We'll stick with the tour.
Crystal Grottoes Caverns
19821 Shepherdstown Pike
Boonsboro, MD 21713