From hiking the woodland and prairie pathways to mining for gemstones,
Lost River Cave’s 72 acres provide family fun for all ages.












Sponsored by, the two miles of nature trails offer a leisurely hike. Follow the Blue Hole Trail to find enchanting blue holes, limestone bluffs, and a natural spring! Feel the history as you pass the remains of historic powder houses that stored dynamite that was used to quarry limestone from the Valley during the Civil War.

Meadow Restoration Project

Take the Blue Hole Trail to check out the Meadow Restoration.

Join the fun by visiting and posting your picture of the meadow! Below you can enjoy guest-submitted photos of the meadow restoration site through the seasons. You can see your photo here, too! It’s simple to do: just place your phone on the Chronolog stand by the meadow, snap a photo, follow the instructions on the post’s sign to upload!

This restoration of the meadow began in 2019 and continues today. Invasive native plants are removed from the site – with help from amazing volunteers – to make room for native meadow plants. Rejuvenating this natural habitat continues to be an important project to support both native plants and native wildlife that need them to thrive.

Take a scenic walk on a paved trail along the Prairie Restoration Site. Experience native wildflowers as you breathe in the fresh air! The Greenway Trail is located above the valley and is perfect for walkers, runners, and strollers. Pets on leashes are welcome, but please leave only paw prints.

Volunteer With Us

Since 1990, volunteers have been integral to the preservation and conservation of Lost River Cave and furthering the mission of enriching and educating more lives through connections in nature. Volunteering at Lost River Cave is a great activity for students, individuals, groups, and families. Work alongside the Lost River Park Guides and Naturalists and be a Habitat Hero!

Volunteer opportunities include:

  • Volunteer Invasive Plant (VIP) Initiative
  • Pollen-Aiders Club
  • Litter Control
  • Community Nature Journal
  • Landscaping

Give Back

There are so many ways to support Lost River Cave and impact our community.  No matter how you choose to give, you’ll be a part of an incredible group of people who want to conserve this land, provide a place for our community to connect with nature, and bridge the gap to nature-based education for all ages.

Join the world’s largest treasure hunt! This popular smartphone-friendly hobby is free of charge and is easy to learn. Come explore the Valley and find our hidden geocaches around the park. More information inside the Gift Shop.

Trails are open 7 days each week from sunrise to sunset.

Gem Mining

Inspire your budding geologists as they pan for gemstone or fossil treasures! They’ll find Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Pyrite, Amber or even Horn Coral! Along with the bag of treasure filled sluice material, children receive a key card which will help them identify their new treasures.

Buy a bag in our Gift Shop and pan for gems in your own home!

Buy a Bonanza Bucket of Gemstones ($49.95) and get a Yellow Bag of Gemstones free! Save $11.95

Buy a Big Bonus Bag of Gemstones ($24.95) and get a Red Bag of Gemstones free! Save $6.95

Buy a Gem Mining Helmet ($22.99) and get a Red Bag of Gemstones free! Save $6.95

Gift Shop

Stop in at the Lost River Cave Gift Shop and check out an array of unique items for every occasion! You’ll find nature-inspired, modern vintage and shabby chic gifts. We cater to the shopper who craves a cozy, down-home atmosphere as well as a great selection of merchandise.

Since opening its doors in mid-2011, the Gift Shop has set its sights on providing financial support for this region’s only Nature Center. You’ll find that the store offers a unique shopping experience with a down-to-earth local feel.

All proceeds from the Lost River Cave Gift Shop provides funding for the Woodlands, Wetlands, and Wildlife at Lost River Cave!  Thanks for your support!

Visitors Center & Gift ShopMonday – Sunday8:30 am – 6:30 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, & New Year's Day | Closed early New Year's Eve

This interactive program is filled with activities designed to get kids ages 6-10 outdoors to explore the wonders of nature and secrets of the Cave.

Pick up a booklet inside our Gift Shop, complete the activities, and receive your Jr. Tour Guide badge and official certificate.

Gift Certificates make great gifts for friends, family, and employees!  They can be purchased at any denomination and be redeemed for Gift Shop Merchandise, Memberships, Facility Rentals, Cave Boat Tours, the Jr. Naturalist Program, etc!

All WKU Students will receive $10 off $50 in the Gift Shop! (Must show Student ID)

Nature Explore Playscape

The Monticello Banking Company Nature Explore Playscape is the playground for your imaginative, curious kids! With all-natural elements, kids can use their imaginations to create a world of their own in nature. Whether their exploring the “cave”, building a fort, or staging a performance on the Thistle Theatre stage, a good time is sure to be had by children ages 6-12.

Butterfly Habitat

The Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat is open Memorial Day through Labor Day!

This seasonal attraction is cherished by locals and visitors alike! Step through the entrance and observe the beauty and wonder that surrounds you. Our screened-in garden supports native Kentucky butterfly species and offers access to nature at no cost!

The Charlie Miller Butterfly Habitat is open Memorial Day through Labor Day from sunrise to sunset!

Monarch Danaus plexippus

“Hi! I am a monarch butterfly! I am one of the most recognizable and well studied butterflies on earth! I have orange wings laced with black lines and bordered with white dots, cute right?”


Painted Lady Vanessa cardui

“Why hello! I am a painted lady. Sometimes people call me the thistle butterfly because thistle plants are my favorite nectar plant for food! I am known for my speed and I can reach up to nearly 30 miles per hour!”

Gulf Fritillary Agraulis vanillae

“Hi, I am a gulf fritillary! Try saying that 5 times fast! The females lay small yellow eggs singly on or near leaves, stems or tendrils of purple passionflowers!”

Common Buckeye Junonia coenia

“Hi! I am a common buckeye. Eyes on the back of your head? I have “eyes” on the back of my wings that are outlined in orange!  My favorite host plants are snapdragon, monkey flowers, plantains, and reullia!”

Giant Swallowtail Papilio cresphontes

“Howdy! I am the giant swallowtail! I am the largest butterfly in North America with a wingspan of up to 7 inches! My favorite host plants are citrus!”

Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta

“Hey! I am a red admiral! You know when you humans reach down to pull a weed and realize its too late and that it was a stinging nettle? Those are my absolute favorite host plants!”

Want to create a butterfly garden in your own backyard? Check out this blog post with steps to get started!

Local artists Hadleigh Evans and Novelty V. Habit donated their time and talent to create an amazing mural on the side of the Gift Shop to raise awareness of the need for the ongoing support of the Butterfly Habitat.


Come spread your wings and tag #lostrivercave as you take flight for an awesome cause!

Every year it takes about $20,000 to provide the Habitat free-of-charge for the community and travelers, alike. If you’d like to help with the cost of butterflies, plants, and care, donate here

There’s so much more going on at Lost River Cave. Check out the full calendar of upcoming events.