Join us as we venture below the surface for our brand new underground adventure that features three different cave tours in Southern Minnesota’s Fillmore County. During this outing, you will have the opportunity to explore winding caverns that showcase unique natural wonders like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and beautiful underground pools, rivers and waterfalls!
Our day trip will begin as we gather at St. Paul’s Union Depot where your local GetKnit Gurus will excitedly be awaiting your arrival with delicious pastries and hot coffee from our friends at A Bakers Wife Pastry Shop. Once we’ve all arrived and gotten comfy on our luxury motor coach for the day, we will begin our drive to Fillmore County, which boasts the only two publicly accessible caves in Minnesota – both of which we will get to explore on our underground adventure!
Our first stop of the day will be Niagara Cave in Harmony, Minnesota. This family owned and operated cave is frequently rated among the top caves in the United States and boasts fossils, rock formations, and an underground waterfall . Here we’ll break into three smaller groups to create a more intimate experience as we descend nearly 200 feet below ground and enjoy an hour long guided tour. While we explore Niagara Cave, we make our way through winding passageways, carved into the limestone by rushing water millions of years ago and discover the treasures preserved in its magnificent caverns. During the tour you may see fossils of cephalopods, fisherites, gastropods, horn corals, or even trilobite fossils – all which give us a glimpse into the geology below our feet in this Driftless Region. These historic gems are not the only treasures hiding underground – as we wind through the intricate cave system, we will marvel at different cave formations, view their underground stream and check out the caves namesake – the Niagara underground waterfall.
Once we’ve ascended back to the surface we will head outside to their picnic shelter reserved for our group. Here – BReaKeRs Restaurant, a local favorite, will have our pre-selected gourmet boxed lunches waiting for us to enjoy. For lunch, you’ll be able to choose between their Turkey Avocado Delight on Cranberry Wild Rice Bread, The Club Stacker on Butter Croissant, Italian Sub, Roast Beef and Cheddar with Horseradish on an Everything Bun, or the Summer Salad Wrap (vegetarian). Each boxed lunch will include chips, coleslaw, a pickle spear, and a sweet treat.
After we’ve refueled, we will hop aboard our bus and head to our next stop of the day, Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. Home to Mystery Cave, which is the longest cave in Minnesota, with over 13 miles of underground passages! Here we will break into two groups. One group will head over the well-known Root River and into Mystery Cave for a fully guided scenic tour of this natural wonder! While on the scenic tour, you’ll get to marvel at many unique cave formations like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, as well as enjoy beautiful underground pools and Turquoise Lake. Along our underground adventure your guide will educate us on how the cave and all these natural features were formed.
Meanwhile, the other group will head to a special entrance into this vast underground cave system for a very special Lantern Tour. Lit only by lanterns, this one-hour tour showcases a completely different tunnel system of Mystery Cave. Here we will traverse along a gravel path that follows long, straight passages which are among the largest and longest in Mystery Cave. While this unique section of the cave system is drier than that on the scenic tour we will still get to enjoy views of the underground Blue Lake and learn all about cave geology. After the completion of the tours, the groups will flip flop and enjoy the respective tour while in a more intimate, smaller group setting.
After we’ve gotten to enjoy both of these unique experiences, we’ll travel to beautiful Lanesboro, Minnesota which is nestled in the Bluffs of the Root River Valley. Here we will head to Pedal Pushers Cafe, which puts an emphasis eating local and believes “real food comes from real farmers.” Our feast will begin with family style appetizers featuring white cheddar cheese curds and crispy brussel sprouts paired with our choice of craft beer, cider, or house wine. For dinner, we will enjoy our pre-selected choice of either a Bacon Cheddar Ranch Burger with Fries, Vegan Falafel Bowl (vegetarian), Blackened Chicken Grain Bowl, Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad with Chicken, Chicken Pot Pie, or Fish & Chips.
With our bellies full we will begin our return trip back to the Twin Cities, as we recall the many memories of the unique beauty, rich history, and natural wonders we’ve experienced on this day long, underground adventure!