. . Crystal Onyx Cave . . . We're Not Mammoth, but we are Spectacular

Inside Crystal Onyx Cave

Inside the cave building
Sara by the cactus

Main entrance

The cave building sits atop the natural entrance.  It starts as a sink hole about 20’ across, but quickly narrows as you follow the concrete and metal steps down to the first landing.  The Lake Trail branches off to the left at this point. 

Turn to the right and you pass through a carved tunnel around some stunning speleotherms.  That comes to the second junction.  Continue forward to the Bench Trail and the Primitive Trail

Turn to the left and go down more stairs, through another tunnel and you are at the stairs leading to the bottom of the shaft and the Great Room. There is a lot of spectacular cave decoration here. 

Formations at the First Landing

Lake Trail

The Lake Trail is the easiest, with only about 20 steps.  First you pass the Great Pumpkin, which may have water flowing over it.  Also, when it rains, you can hear water run under the crust. 

Then you come to the bridge over the lake. Its level varies depending on rainfall. You go down into a large room with a 40’ ceiling and spectacular cave formations including interesting little alcoves you can enter.

At the back there are large limestone rocks that have slumped and now have calcite growing over them.  The “friends and family” undeveloped passage is here .

Formations near the end of the Lake Trail
Lake after a storm.
Imagination Room squeeze.

Bench Trail

At the start of the BenchTrail, if you look up you will see a garden of stalactites. Then you pass the thickest column in the cave – 4 feet in diameter and 12 feet tall. Near this is the unique cactus stalagmite that was featured when the cave was first explored.

An area of low ceiling is where Scott has placed cave formations that were found as he rehibilitated areas that had been previously filled with mud and rubble. Go up a few stairs and you will see a small pool and terrace area on the right.

Look at the ceiling in the Moon Room and you will see how it got its name. In one spot there is a very persistent drip that will kiss you as you pass under. Also here you will see an example of the original lighting system.

A run of steps leads down to the spectacular Imagination Room. Look up to the walls and 25’ high ceiling and you will see birds, bears, fish and more.

Steps lead up from the Imagination Room. Several are very narrow and squeeze you between delightful formations. Then you pass the wedding cake, a very active stalagmite formation, and go over the great wall terrace to the Bench Room.  There are benches where you can sit and enjoy the sensations of the cave. The trail ended here, but Scott has added steps down into the Primitive trail.

Primitive Trail

When he was almost done with the last trail, Scott decided that the cave area beyond the benches was spectacular, and deserved its own trail.  This trail goes under the bench area and wanders off to places that are not excavated.  

Scott had to dig it out, make it wider, then add the concrete foundation and metal stairs.  Finally he added pea gravel to make the trail.  Some of the calcite recovered from other places is displayed here. He has kept it mostly undeveloped to show how the cave would have looked before blasting and paving. 

The bench area
Some of the very recent speleothemes in the primitive area
Wedding Chapel stairs

Wedding Chapel

The trail to the Wedding Chapel starts at a formation resembling Jabba the Hutt in the Great room then into a room with an interesting ceiling where Scott has placed one of his aliens.  Check the walls and ceilings here for cave crickets.

Then you pass down some grand stairs, and spectacular terraced pools to the floor of the chapel.  There is an area of cave drapery that looks like the altar of a church, thus the name.  The ceiling is 40’ high and decorated with cave bacon.  Look up and see if you can find the T-rex with the octopus and statue.

Jabba the Hut formation

Great Room

Everything comes together in the Great Room.  Looking up, you have a spectacular view up the main shaft to the first landing, and then other shafts almost as tall.  The great room is extravagantly decorated with formations.

To the right is the short trail past the alien to the Wedding Chapel. Forward is the stairway to the basement, where the water runs down and disappears.

Finally, behind is the tunnel which winds around and up to the lower entrance.

Scott made all of the metal stairs himself and lowered the longer components down the main shaft before he bolted them together.  Debris was hauled out and materials hauled in through the tunnel by using buckets and wheelbarrows.

Great Room Ceiling
Looking up from the bottom.
Stairs to the basement

The Basement

This is the bottom of the cave. It was a hole filled with dirt and debris, with a wooden ladder and buckets in the bottom.  

In the early 1980s when it was being excavated, Ms. Wolf was digging at the bottom. A rock shifted and she was pinned.  Cave search and rescue took several hours to release her unharmed. Click the “Trapped” button below to read her story.

This has the longest formation. a column about 50’ tall and always dripping. Much of the water that enters the cave goes down this hole.

The picture to the left show the long column that ends in the basement.

Now Open Daily

One of the most beautiful caves in Kentucky!

Open from 11 a.m. to the last tour at 8 pm.  Come and visit us!

Crystal Onyx Cave * 425 Prewitt’s Knob Road, Cave City, KY 42127 * (270)773-3377