Minnesota’s hidden treasures
Like us if you have visited the typical well known attractions in Minnesota such as Duluth, Sculpture Garden, Mall Of America, Valleyfair, Science Museum, etc.. and are looking for places that are “off the beaten path” then this one is for you. Read more about our recent visit to the Munsinger & Clemens Gardens in St. Cloud, a hidden treasure with breathtaking views of the well manicured gardens. Located 1.5 hours west of down town Minneapolis these gardens offer a great opportunity to enjoy natures beauty in a unique way, pack some food and you have yourselves a picnic experience that you will not forget.
Forestville/Mystery Cave Park is one such location that offers a lot in a day long visit.
Forestville/Mystery Cave Park
The park is located 40 miles southeast of Rochester, approx. 2.5 hours southeast of downtown Minneapolis and situated in between Spring Valley and Preston, Minnesota. The village of Forestville has been restored to a 19th-century appearance and is operated by Minnesota Historical Society (MHS). Mystery Cave is Minnesota’s longest cave, which is open to the public. Cave has 13 miles of passages. The park offers hiking, biking and camping opportunities.
Nature lovers will find themselves surrounded with stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, underground pools and cool temperatures that only true Minnesotans would find comfortable (49 degrees F). Summer time is the best time to visit the Mystery Cave.
These photos do not do justice to the beauty and majesty of the cave, the natural processes that made it to be what it is. Gives new meaning to the phrase “only if these walls could talk” !
Inside you will see a wide variety of rock formations, especially Stalactites that continue their upward growth which results in formation of columns. Some have discovered squid and other sea creature fossils in the rocks. The cave is still very active and continues to be discovered as new sections of the cave are made accessible by the state.
Completely dark and bats
Like most deep caves, it is pitch black in the cave. A lantern tour is offered where you can experience the cave like the original explorers did but is not recommended for kids less than 8 years old. Hope you don’t mind the bats as there are thousands of them in the cave. Bats play a important roles in the caves ecosystem and Minnesota DNR requires that all visitors walk across special mats that eliminates the risk associated with spread of fungus.
So next time you have a day to spend, visit Forestville/Mystery Cave and share your experiences.
Blog post by Ketan Deshpande, MN