Filled with stalagmites and dripping with stalactites, caves can appear to be mystical ancient cities with personalities all their own. Magnificent caves are scattered across the continents, and often where you least expect to find them.
Located in the Mexican state of Chihuahua, the Naica Mine is an operational lead, zinc, and silver mine made famous for its selenite crystals. The largest crystal discovered to date spans 12 meters in length, four meters in diameter, and weighs 55 tons. Since this cave has extremely hot air temperature and high humidity, much of the cave remains unexplored.
Below a rugged New Mexico landscape, rocky slopes, canyons, cacti, shrubs, and trees exist underground inside Carlsbad Caverns. There are over 119 known caves inside this U.S. National Park, which according to geological history, served as the coastline for an inland sea 250 million years ago. More than 300,000 people this cave each year by taking a self-guided cave tour, a ranger-guided tour, or by attending a bat flight program to witness the nightly exodus of Brazilian free-tailed bats.
Glowworms are unique to New Zealand, and thousands of these remarkable luminescent creatures live inside the Waitomo Glowworm Caves. These caves date back 30 million years, and have become one of the most popular attractions on the North Island. Take a magical boat ride through the Ruakuri and Aranui caves to be enchanted by the illuminations that highlight stalactites, stalagmites, and cave decorations that have been millions of years in the making.
The Vatnajokull Glacial Cave is sometimes called the Crystal Caves of Iceland. After a volcanic eruption that melted billions of gallons of ice and created a floodplain with huge chunks of ice, the inside of the cave began to resemble a collection of fine jewels. Located about four hours east of Reykjavik, this is the largest glacier located outside of the polar regions.
Located in the state of Kentucky and spanning 52,830 acres, Mammoth Cave National Park makes up the longest underground cave system in the world. The history of Mammoth Cave dates back six thousand years, where several sets of Native American remains have been uncovered by archeologists. Although no one actually knows how large the underside of the cave is, over 365 miles of the five-level cave system have been discovered and mapped out.
The Red Flute Cave got its name from the verdant reeds that grow outside of it, which indigenous people have traditionally crafted musical flutes from. You can find stunning rock formations, stone pillars, and stalactites inside this cave. The formations inside this 240-meter long cave are made even more spectacular by colored illuminations and over 70 inscriptions written that are written in ink and can be dated back as far as 792 AD.