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List of World's 10 Largest Caves

List of the World's 10 Largest Caves That'll Leave You Awestruck

Talking about the largest caves in the world, they are exotic-massive structures, which you need to see yourself to actually understand how humongous they actually are. Read more to get a brief information on the largest cave structures in the world.
Vacayholics Staff
Last Updated: Mar 13, 2018
Caves are naturally-built large abysses in the underground space. Scientists and research-groups have been able to study past climatic conditions and also about past animal life, by studying and analyzing fossils and other formations in the caves. The formation of the caves would go back to eons. Exploring a cave for pleasure, adventure or hobby is also widely practiced worldwide. This act is known as 'Spelunking'.

Limestone and gypsum caves are the most commonly found Cave-types. These caves can be flooding with water or they can be dry too.

List of 10 Largest Caves in the World

1. Mammoth Cave, U.S.A

Established as a National Park On: July 1, 1941

Type: Limestone and Sandstone

Location: Ed./Hart/Bar, Kentucky, U.S.A.

Size: Length= 390 miles, Depth= 379 feet.

Description:
Mammoth cave is the longest cave system in the world. The discovery of this cave goes back to 4000 years. However, the Mammoth Cave was converted into a National Park to safeguard the maze of caves, green river valley and the hilly country around it, in 1941. This cave is a home to a host of species of animals and plants. Over 70 of the species living in this cave are considered as endangered. The cave has lost many species in the past and many are on the verge of extinction. There are several formations of stalactites, stalagmites, helictites and gypsum formations in this cave.

Things to do:
There is so much to do when you come here! You can go for the Cave-tours, camping, canoeing on the green river, hiking, trekking, horse riding, fishing, water skiing, attend special events like 'Wildflower Day' and 'National Ranger Junior Day'.

2. Jewel Cave, U.S.A

Established On: February 7, 1908

Type: Limestone

Location: Custer, South Dakota, U.S.A.

Size: Length= 153.500 miles, Depth= 632 feet.

Description:
Jewel cave is the second largest cave in the world. Its entrance had to be enlarged with a dynamite. Even though the cave was announced as a national monument in the year 1908, it was only in 1939 that, cave-tours were offered. This cave is a home to the longest straw stalactites in the world. You will also get to see several exotic 'colossal formations'. It is open year-round, except for thanks-giving day and on the 1st of January.

Things to do:
You can opt to go for a cave-tour. Jewel Cave offers four varieties of guided tours, 'Scenic Tour', 'Discovery Tour', 'Historic Lantern Tour' and 'Wild Caving Tour'. You can also try some surface activities. Jewel Cave gives you an opportunity to explore the surface of the cave. You can visit the 'Acre Park' and witness the evidence of the 'Jasper Fire'. You can also attend Ranger programs. Ranger programs are scheduled throughout the year. These programs will include a tour through the wildlife, exotic plants and animals, jasper fire and the ecology of the cave. You can also go wildflower-viewing, where you will get to see 393 documented plant species. You can go bird watching and there are 120 species of birds for you to see in this cave. Finally, the best activity of all: Hiking! There are three hiking trails, available to the visitors, which are 'A walk on the Roof Trail', 'Canyons Trail', and 'Hell Canyon Trail'. Do look out for the jewelry box, Giant shawl, Friendly ghost and the Organ pipes!

3. Optymistychna Cave, Ukraine

Discovered In: 1966

Type: Gypsum

Location: Borshchiv, Ternopil, Ukraine.

Size: Length= 144.158 miles, Depth= 49 feet.

Description:
This is the third largest cave in the world. It has a surveyed passageway of 133 miles. The major peculiarity of this cave is that its labyrinth has several levels of network giving it a 'maze effect' and the pass-ways are often obstructed with mud.

The major attraction of this cave are its '10 areas'. These 10 areas differ from each other in texture, size and shape; these areas are all connected through passages. Also, you will get to see an array of crystal formations here.

Things to do:
Look out for the famous engraves of, 'Twelve Apostles', 'Pamir-Altatic', 'Hall of Grigoriy Skovoroda', 'Honolulu' and 'Huge Galleries'.

4. Sistema Ox Bel Ha, Mexico

Discovered In: 1996

Type: Under water, Limestone

Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Size: Length= 139.385 miles, Depth= 114 feet

Description:
This is the largest under-water cave in the world. It is bordered by the 'Savannah saw grass' and the 'Mangroves'. The walls of the caves are dark brown in color because of the 'Tannic Acid'. Majority of the cave system is located deep into the jungles and passages under this area are not made accessible.

It has recently been renovated and arrangements such as, ample of parking space, cement roads and ladders to get you in the cave-water have been made. You will find haloclines as deep as 52 feet there. Some passages of the cave connect directly with the Caribbean sea. You could actually go swimming and diving in the cave. Don't miss the 'Ball Park' passage, where you can dive and directly swim to the Caribbean sea.

5. Wind Cave, U.S.A

Established as a National Park On: January 9, 1903

Type: Madison limestone

Location: Custer, South Dakota, U.S.A.

Size: Length= 135.730 miles, Depth= 636 feet.

Description:
The vast land of the Wind Cave consist of 'mixed-grass prairie' and 'Ponderosa Pine Forest'. It is a home to several wildlife animals such as mule deer, pronghorn, prairie dogs, elks and bison. The main tourist attractions here are the 'boxwork' and 'frostwork' formations on the cave. This cave is divided into two parts. One which is dark and located deep within the earth and the other which is exposed to the sunlight. This division is also observed in the Wind Cave's ecology.

There is so much about cave-geology that one can learn from visiting this cave. You can also get the opportunity to see various speleothem structures and get to explore the cave.

Things to do:
You could attend Cave Tours, Ranger Programs, go Hiking and Horse-back riding.

6. Lechuguilla Cave, U.S.A

Established as a National Park On: May 26, 1986

Type: Gypsum

Location: Carlsbad Caverns National park, New Mexico, U.S.A.

Size: Length= 130.240 miles, Depth= 1064 feet.

Description:
This is the sixth longest cave in the world. It is located within an ancient coral-reef-turned mountain range. There are deposits of iron, manganese, sulfur and gypsum. The large passages in the caves were discovered only in the year 1986. It gets its name from the plant 'Agave lechuguilla' which is found in abundance there. Very little is known about this cave as its entry has been limited to only authorized scientific researchers and exploring teams. Lechuguilla Cave is a home to exotic stalactite structures.

Lechuguilla Cave is naturally built through massive acidic and chemical reactions within. Lechuguilla Cave, remains to be one of the most explored caves by the enthusiasts.

7. Sistema Sac Actun, Mexico (Nohoch Nah Chich)

Discovered On: November 26, 1987.

Type: Dry & Under water, Carrillo Puerto formation.

Location: Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Size: Length= 135.063 miles, Depth= 255 feet.

Description:
It is located along the Caribbean coast and is an anchailine cave. These caves are always filled with water and the average temperature of the water is 67 degrees Fahrenheit. 'Grand Cenote', which is the entrance to the cave is the main attraction here. Once you have entered through the Grand Cenote, you will have to climb a few steps down and walk up to the dock after which you can directly jump in the cave-water. After a short distance you will approach the 'permanent cave line'. This line will connect you to the 'Cenote Ho-Tul'. As, you go further down you will also discover the 'Cuzan Nah loop line', which is said to be the most beautiful part of the cave. You can visit the 'Paso Lagarto' and 'Cenote Calimba' to witness the most upstream-portion of the cave and have a great swim too. The depth of the cave water is around 40 feet average.

They have been trying to find a link from 'Sac Actun' to 'Nohoch Nah Chich', which is still under discovery.

8. Hoelloch Cave, Switzerland

Discovered In: 1875

Type: Limestone

Location: Muotatal, Schwyz, Switzerland.

Size: Length= 123.150 miles, Depth= 3079 feet.

Description:
In the year 1990, the development of the Hoelloch Cave for the tourist had started. A hotel named 'Hôtel des Grottes' was built in the Hinterthal village. There is a direct route to the cave from the hotel. The cave contains exotic varieties of fossils, specially brachiapods and the walls of the Hoelloch Cave are slanted. After a major destruction in the cave due floods, the cave was shut down for decades until Alferd Bogli, rediscovered in 1945. The best time to visit this cave would be in the winters to avoid the risk of floods.

This is cave is now open to all and many cave tours and ranger programs are made available. This cave is the best place to go-spelunking and to observe the features of its karst. The cave path can be rough and can have sand, clay and flooded floors. Because of frequent floods, you will not find stalactites and stalagmite formations in this cave. Also, there is a cave show that you would like. These shows run throughout the year. There are no lights in the cave but you can avail the carbide lamps from the cave authorities. Avoid visiting this cave in the spring and you can look out for the cave tours which are regularly scheduled between the months June and September.

Things to do:
You can attend the show-caves, go swimming and look out for different forms of stalactites and stalagmites.

9. The Clearwater System Cave, Malaysia

Discovered In: 1978

Type: Limestone

Location: Mulu, Sarawak, Malaysia.

Size: Length= 117.484 miles, Depth= 1165 feet.

Description:
Clear Water System cave is the longest cave in Asia. There are two adventurous ways to reach this cave. One is by trekking and second is through a boat. It has an impressive collection and live-formations of Spelethems. 'Kings Room', which is the largest room in the cave, has many different forms of stalactites and stalagmites put up. You can enjoy strolling around; there are many plankwalk-paths and small floating bridges which add to the fun and the adventure part of the strolling.

Things to do:
Things you could do here are; Attend Show Caves: You can visit the 'Deer cave' and the 'Langs Caves'. 'Deer cave' is the largest cave passage in the world. Visit the Bat Exodus: Here you get to see and learn about the 12 species of bats, present there. Places you should visit here are; The Garden of Eden: This is a half day activity which will enable you to see both the caves, 'Clear water system cave' and the 'Wind cave'. The Garden of Eden pools: This is a cave tour that begins from the 'rainforest discovery walk' and will take you to deeper and deeper levels of the cave till you reach the underground river. Garden of Eden valley walk: Here you get to walk to the Eden river and also swim in it. Turtle cave adventure: This is an extension to the cave which will require walking and some swimming to get you there. Racer cave: Here you get an opportunity to go up and down the cave and visit a few passages open to the visitors. This will include a site to the animal life there. Sarawak chamber: This is an advanced level of trekking and will require the permission from the park manager. Clear water and Wind cave connection: You can choose to take a trip on a boat to the Wind Caves, which is about 4.8 km far and will take up to 8 hours to get you there.

10. Fisher Ridge Cave System, U.S.A

Discovered On: July 1, 1941

Type: Gypsum

Location: Hart, Kentucky, U.S.A.

Size: Length= 114.100 miles, Depth= 356 feet.

Description:
The Fisher Ridge Cave System was announced as a world heritage site on October 27, 1981. It is located in the 'Meramec State Park', Missouri. A trip to this cave is offered season-wise. The passages to the cave are narrow with huge rooms. These rooms have preserved-bear claw-marks and other wildlife species. You will get to see the deposits of the calcite in abundance, in this cave. There are huge formations of columns of calcite deposits, structured as tall as 30 feet.

Things to do:
You can see the Show Caves, go fishing, go hiking, camping and also attend an Explorer-Program. There is a good parking space available. No lights are used in the caves though flashlights and lamps can be easily availed.

These caves are the most beautiful natural-structures in the world. Not only are they magnificent but they are also very enlightening. Visiting at-least one of these caves, should be there in your 'bucketlist'.
Wind Cave
Sistema Ox Bel Ha Cave
Mammoth Cave
Irelands Northwest Coast