So far this summer, our weather here in the northeast has been one to marvel. They say if you don’t like the weather in this part of the country, you should wait a minute. Lately, we have been waiting days, not minutes, as sizzling hot summer days give way to a week long stretch of rain. There is a place, however, where the temperature is a cool 52 degrees year round with extremely low humidity, and it’s located within 2 hours from Litchfield County in scenic and wild upstate New York. Howe Caverns, located on the edge of the Adirondack Mountains, is a unique discovery that was really unlike anything I have ever witnessed before. We have all been in a cave or two in our lives, right? Well, okay, maybe not, but there are caves in this country you can actually visit and you’ll be guaranteed not to be dinner for any bears, or in my case, the appetizer.
Based on a column put out by 60b Photography, I absolutely had to discover Howe Caverns for myself. I love to travel, so I called my mother up and told her that we had plans to go into a cave on Friday. I don’t think she would have ever expected that phone call. So, on Friday we loaded up and by 7:45AM we left Torrington and were on our way up discover a different world, litteraly! The drive to Howe is actually quite easy, if you know your sense of direction or are equipped with a GPS system. The best way to get there is up through the Berkshires and then hop right on to the Mass Pike heading west towards Albany. The tolls are modest in comparison to the tolls that you would pay in the city, but the views along the way are absolutely priceless as you drive your way through New York’s Taconic Mountains, coasting your way through the Hudson Valley until you eventually reach Albany, which is a rather bustling place, but none the less scenic as it too is surrounded by picturesque mountain views.
In Albany, it’s only another 30 minutes west out into the big wide open no mans land of upstate New York. If I wasn’t mistaken, the cows might outnumber the people that live around here. Once we arrived, we welcomed to the estate, which sits above the caverns, by a fresh blast of cold air which is all natural as the caverns themselves are providing air conditioning for the estate! Talk about going green, these folks are the epiphany. Arriving at the ticket window and paying a mere $20 per person for a nearly 2 hour tour with a tour guide, was certainly worth it, even though it didn’t seem like it was worth my $20 when I arrived, but I can tell you it was, and I’m not one to throw away money!
As our group of 10 people formed together, we were led to an elevator which would bring us down 156 feet to the caverns, and once we stepped out of the elevator and into a state of awe as we marveled at the sights before us, but that awe was soon overtaken by how cold it was as goosebumps started to form. Luckily for me, I had purchased a sweater at the gift shop back up in the world so the chill in the air hadn’t bothered me as much.
Our tour started from what was called a foyer, which is where they had built a concrete wall in between the cave to make way for the elevator service which was installed back in the 1920’s. As we made our way about, we explore some pretty impressive places that were well lit up by an amazing array of color illumination. We explored the caverns by a brick walkway complete with staircases and railings, and if you think the railings were built to protect you from wild animals, you would be wrong as there are no animals to speak of, not even any fish in the river that flows through. The only wildlife they say exists down in the underworld are bats, but not many folks have seen them as they are scared of people.
Words can’t describe the images I saw in the caverns, even the pictures I have taken aren’t enough to describe it’s pure beauty. This is a place that really has to be seen in person. After about 30 minutes of touring, we were eventually led to a lake where we were treated to a boat ride along the waters natural currents, which there wasn’t any at the time so the guide had to steer the boat by using the walls of the cavern. This was by far the absolute best part of the tour. It was wildly impressive to be able to coast along a lake 156 feet below the earths surface. How many people can say they have done that before? I can’t think of too many other than the individual that reccomemded I make the trek out here.
After about 10 minutes of enjoying the lake, we then made our way back towards the foyer, but not before a visit to the chapel. Yes, a chapel. According to our tour guide, there are a wicked amount of people who get married down here. I’m not exactly sure I would ever want to be one of those people, but the idea is worth exploring as it is quite unique. In the chapel sat a glowing heart on the cavern floor, and according to it’s legend, if you were to walk over it, you would end up married by the end of the year. I didnt even go 10 feet next to it.
Once we left the chapel, it was off to explore the best for last as we wound our way through what was called the winding trail, which essentially was where you were in tight quarters as you were like a snake going back and forth in between the cavern walls, and it was also here where plenty of people have been known to hit their heads. I exercised caution as we made our way back to the foyer and up the elevator shaft back up to the real world.
If you’re looking for a fun day trip, this is the place every family must explore. A relatively short drive will litteraly bring you a world away, just don’t forget to come back home, because even with you there, you still won’t outnumber the cows.
255 Discovery Drive
Howes Cave, NY 12092