If you’re looking for an interesting day trip to take with the whole family, please Go See Explore with me to Cave of the Mounds in Blue Mounds, WI!
This summer, I packed up a cooler and took my two kids (ages four and five) on a day trip to Cave of the Mounds. We woke up and had our breakfast and headed out to the cave. We met up with my parents, who live in the La Crosse area. I purchased tickets ahead of time, because they have timed tours going throughout the day.
After checking in at the Visitor Center and getting my printed tickets, we had our tickets verified and waited for our turn to go into the cave. The employee gave us a small history of how the cave was discovered and went over the rules. You’re allowed to take photos in the cave, but not allowed to touch anything – so be sure you prep younger kids for that important rule.
The cave is open year-round. In the summer it’s a lot cooler than the air outside, so we brought along sweatshirts and we were very glad to have them inside the cave. In the winter time, the cave is more mild than the outside temperature, so expect that if you’re making the trip in the colder months. Note that there are no backpacks or bags allowed inside the cave (a fanny pack/belt bag is allowed, if you wear it in front of you), so expect to walk through without needing much.
I would recommend waiting until your kids can walk independently and confidently on their own. You’re not allowed to use a baby carrier and there are a lot of slippery steps along the path, so be sure your kids are ready to handle that before making the trek to see Cave of the Mounds. The route is a concrete walking path, but it’s wet, so I recommend wearing sneakers or shoes with a heel strap while you’re exploring the cave.
My parents, my two kids and I spent about an hour and a half exploring inside the cave. If I had gone without kids, I probably would have spent about two hours, but we had to keep the little feet moving and interested.
The tour is self-guided, but there are employees along the path to point out interesting parts and pieces of the cave and to answer any questions you might have. Definitely be sure to ask questions because we learned a lot by asking! My Dad could have spent all day in the caves – he brought his own flashlight and was looking into every single nook and cranny in the place. We didn’t opt in for this, but you can also rent a black-light flashlight (or bring your own) which will light up the calcite in the cave.
There is also signage along the path. If you have a budding reader, it can be fun to read the signs and talk about that information along the way. It was so much fun to see my kiddo read and gather information for the first time in a setting like this – she loved it!
After exploring both sections of the cave, we made a stop at the gift shop. They have a ton of rock themed gifts as well as books and other trinkets. Back up at the visitor center, we chose to grab a bag of sand and “mine” for rocks in the water feature on site. We dumped half the bag into a screen for each kiddo and they were so excited to explore what kind of rocks they found.
Afterward, we headed up to the grassy picnic area near the parking lot. I grabbed my cooler from the back of our van and we sat down for a wonderful picnic lunch with grandma and grandpa. There were all kinds of wooly caterpillars around when we went for our visit mid-June, but I’m assuming there are all kinds of little creatures to explore.
We didn’t spend much time on the grounds afterward, but they are beautifully maintained by staff there and full of wildflowers and all kinds of native plants. If you Go See Explore at Cave of the Mounds, you can spend another hour or more exploring the pathways on land and take a small hike through the rolling hills on the Cave of the Mounds grounds.
Overall, we loved adventuring over to Cave of the Mounds, and I definitely recommend it as a day trip to anyone looking for something to do on a day off. We left Dad at home for this trip, but we’ll be heading back again in the next year so he can see all the amazing things to explore at Cave of the Mounds.