Hidden River Cave

Traverse the longest underground suspension bridge in the world at this Horse Cave, Kentucky, attraction and take a guided tour to one of the largest free-standing cave domes in the country. 

People walking out of Hidden River Cave entrance in Horse Cave, Kentucky (photo courtesy of Hidden River Cave)

With a population of 2,400, Horse Cave, Kentucky, is one pint-size town, but the subterranean treasure housed beneath its Downtown Historic District is of record-setting proportions. Hidden River Cave is Kentucky’s largest, privately operated cave. Home to the longest underground suspension bridge in the world, it also houses one of the largest free-standing cave domes in the United States.

The cavern’s mouth sits at the bottom of 230 steps descending from the adjacent American Cave Museum, a base camp for the American Cave Conservation Association. Informative and family-friendly exhibits teach about karst geology — a landscape characterized by sinkholes, caves and springs — as well as cave archaeology, the early 20th-century Show Cave Wars and the cave’s 50-year closure due to pollution in the area. 

Once the source of drinking water and hydroelectricity for the town of Horse Cave, Hidden River Cave became so polluted by trash and sewage that it closed in 1943. Thanks to the American Cave Conservation Association, a planning grant, the opening of a regional sewage treatment system and the commitment of the community to clean up the cave, Hidden River Cave reopened for tours in the 1990s. Since then, it has become a success story of cave restoration in the United States. 

Guided tours feature a walk across the suspension bridge swinging about 45 feet above a rushing river. Once across, visitors tour Sunset Dome, a massive chamber with rock in spectacular shades of red, yellow and orange. It was inaccessible to the public for more than seven decades until the 2020 construction of the 100-foot-long bridge. 

Fifty-minute guided cave tours are booked on the hour and help visitors learn about the cave’s history and usage. Tours are open to all ages and are free for active military members. Friendly, leashed dogs are also allowed to tour the cave. 119 E. Main St., Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749, 270/786-1466, hiddenrivercave.com