Only Two of These In Kentucky

Lost River Cave has one of only two Nature Explore Classrooms in the state of Kentucky. Come visit our Nature Explore Classroom and get those kids outside, off the couch, and out from in front of those screens.

Arbor Day Foundation says it better than I can, so:

 

Advertisements

Come Camp Out at Lost River Cave

Image

As I walked in that morning, the smell of breakfast cooking over a campfire encroached upon my senses. The cool, autumn morning air seemed to carry the aroma to me. Even though I had eaten breakfast already, my mouth began to water and my stomach grumbled with delight that this tempting food was near. The tents were still up and most of the campers were still asleep. It seemed odd to me to look forward and see a quiet campsite, then look behind and see people driving to church on a five lane road that Sunday morning.

While at Lost River Cave it is easy to forget that you are inside a city. Many times I’ve had people remark to me that it was like stepping through some kind of gateway or portal and leaving the city behind. The annual Great American Backyard Campout takes advantage of this wooded seclusion within walking distance of a convenience store. Depending on your taste, you can go back to basics and stay at the campsite, or if you prefer, you have the opportunity to “cheat” and go grab a pizza. (Just in case your campsite cooking skills fail you.)

So gather up your camping gear, it is time for Lost River Cave’s third annual Great American Backyard Campout. This is a very popular event and spots fill up quickly. It is no wonder that this event sells out, you get so much more than just a place to camp. Our event has a variety of activities from arts and crafts to backpacking seminars. This is an amazing way to get in some rest and relaxation and come together as a family. Image

The Great American Backyard Campout serves as a chance to get the kids outside and moving. It is so important in today’s world to get people, but especially children outside and on their feet. Today’s biggest threats to our health, well being, and happiness are the very activities that we engage in daily. Spending hours sitting, staring at a screen, and generally not moving around is damaging our health as a nation. So take this opportunity to get your family some much needed medicine, sign up for our campout here. We have lots of fun waiting for you.

You bring your camping needs, and let us provide the fun.

We provide campfires, hot dogs, marshmallows, bathrooms and port-a-potties, crafts, activities, games, a frozen yogurt social, and of course the great outdoors. There is even a $3.00 breakfast available Sunday morning (purchase tickets at registration).

Plan ahead and  you can experience the biggest adventure in Bowling Green. See sights not seen on the boat tour with our ImageFamily Cave Crawl Tour. Ages 5 and up are welcome and space is very  limited so make reservations for that as quickly as you can. This is the best opportunity you will have to see cave animals, view fossils embedded in the limestone, and get a closeup view of our “soda straw” stalactites.

Also in October: Fall Break Bash featuring boat tours for only $7.00, our second annual Scarecrow Trail, and pumpkins for sale. Check our events page here for more details.

On White Squirrels: No, Not Albino

The whispering started again. I was not surprised as I had seen this behavior dozens if not hundreds of times before. I knew that my talk on the geology of the blue hole at Lost River Cave was about to take a back seat. It usually starts with one person quietly and politely nudging someone they came with, then whispering while pointing behind me. Next it spreads, more nudging and pointing and before long the planned speech has been completely upstaged by Flake, one of our resident white squirrels. 

Image

I’ve learned, and now when it starts I will say, without turning around, “If you look behind me, you will spot one of our white squirrels.” The first question is, “How did you know it was there?” and then the Frequently Asked Questions start rolling.

A popular site in Bowling Green, KY especially on the campus of Western Kentucky University, and here at Lost River Cave, are our white squirrels. When I was in college I heard many ridiculous explanations of their origins. Some said it was an experiment in the biology labs, others said the fault was with the chemistry or physics students doing bizarre experiments. My all time favorite put the blame for the white squirrels on a grand art project by students at the art department at the university. 

The real explanation? Nobody can give a perfect explanation of the white squirrels, but there are several factors that could come into play that help explain our population of white squirrels.

To head off the usual first question, none of the white squirrels I have seen at Lost River Cave are albinos, they all have dark eyes, not pink ones. Tree squirrels have a large amount of variability in coat colors, one of those variations is the white coat. Generally in nature the white coat is selected against because it is not good for concealment in a tree canopy. In settings where there are few natural predators, like the urban setting around Bowling Green, white squirrels have an extra chance of surviving. It has also been proposed that the white squirrels are able to blend in somewhat in areas with lots of white buildings and light colored concrete. Finally, white squirrels being less common around the world than squirrels of a different color, they often get “encouraged” to survive by people. In some towns, they have actually made an effort to remove squirrels that were not white in order to increase the white squirrel populations. That has not happened here, but I know from experience that Flake attracts the attention of guests who bribe him to pose for a picture with treats that his poor grey cousins don’t get.

Fortunately for those who are curious about the white squirrels, our most well known white squirrel at Lost River Cave likes to hang out in an area easily accessible by guests. As you head down the trail towards our big bridge, just as you start to walk under a tree canopy is Flake’s favorite hangout. These last few weeks in the afternoon I have seen him perched on a dead branch of an eastern red cedar there working on opening a walnut. 

Image

For more information on white squirrel populations you can go here.

And if you’d like to come meet Flake, come visit us at Lost River Cave

 

Fall at Lost River Cave can mean lots of things. Walking the nature trails as the sun filters down through the thinning foliage, wild turkeys roosting in the oak trees, the crunch of dried leaves underfoot, and of course Edward Scissorhands standing stoic on the trailside.

Edward was one of the many scarecrows that decorated the trails last year for our first annual Scarecrow Trail.Image October is a busy month for us here at Lost River Cave. Our fall nature center activities include the Scarecrow Trail, pumpkin sales, the Great American Backyard Campout, and of course Fall Break Bash.

The 2013 Scarecrow Trail is open September 29 through October 27 and is free to walk if you dare!  Local businesses and families are building scarecrows to display on our nature trails and will be judged for prizes. Last year’s scarecrows included Paul Revere, Edward Scissorhands, and Spiderman among many others.

 

Pumpkins are for sale now at Wildflower Gifts. Pumpkin sales, and all gift shop sales at Wildflower Gifts support Lost River Cave’s nature center. So come on down and get your locally-grown pumpkins here.

Group Of Children Having Fun In Tent In CountrysideCamping outside under the stars is the greatest refresher I can think of. A crisp fall night, the symphony of crickets in the background, S’mores roasting over a fire pit, and the company of friends. That is why we are having our annual Great American Backyard Campout at Lost River Cave October 19.  If you love camping it is a great way to get out under the stars while avoiding the time commitment traveling to camp can often be. If you or your children are new to camping this is a great way to get your feet wet and see what it is all about. There will be hot cocoa, marshmallows, campfires, and a variety of fun events to keep your family engaged and having fun. This is a great way to unplug yourself and get back to nature.

For some, the highlight of our fall season is our annual Fall Break Bash. Starting October 3rd and going through October 13th, boat tours at Lost River Cave are discounted to $7.00. If a tight budget has been keeping you away from one of Bowling Green’s premier tourist attractions and the only underground boat ride in the state of Kentucky, then come take advantage of our Fall Break Bash pricing to get the family underground.

Full information on our fall events can be found here. 

Caves and Dog Purses

He had a colorful dog purse in one hand, and a skeptical look on his face. It was November and the water was too high to give tours. He walked up to me with the dog purse and asked, “What, exactly, does this have to do with the cave?” I knew from his tone that he was, like me, a bit of a purist. I could tell that the point he was trying to make was that a cave gift shop should only have cave related gifts. I recognized this because I was skeptical once too. Image

So I explained it. 

There is a reason that we transformed our little souvenir shop with postcards, t-shirts, and rocks into a full blown gift store. It is wonderful that when people are visiting for tours that they can get a Lost River Cave coffee cup and help conserve the cave, but there is a long part of the year that we cannot rely on tourism dollars. 

As a veteran tour guide at Lost River Cave I know that after Labor Day, there is a collective tightening of the belts around here. The visitation drops steadily through September and October then all but dries up in November. Our mission to protect this cave and to provide nature center resources like our Nature Explore classroom and Hiking trails to the community, quite frankly, costs money. To pay for those things we try to generate income all year long, not just May through August. 

In the early days of Lost River Cave, we had three ways to pay for the resources we provide, tour tickets, tour souvenirs, and memberships. (You really should become a member by the way, just click here.) With few people coming in the doors in November and December, it curtails all those sources of income. So a new source of funding was found.

It just so happens that shortly after the tourism season ends, the Christmas shopping season begins. So the answer was to expand our souvenir sales into a full fledged gift store. So when fewer people are taking boat tours, we hope you will come into the gift shop and do a little shopping.

If you, like me, are a purist and only want to buy cave souvenirs, come on in, we’ve still got our Lost River Cave t-shirts, our bags of rocks, and our coffee cups. If you want to help support a grass roots organization that formed to save and protect a cave, come by in November, or any other time of year, and either make a donation, buy a membership, or just buy that colorful dog purse for a little girl.

Three Free Activities To Fuel Kids Curiosity at Lost River Cave

Free, Fun, and Full of Benefits.

“Dad, can we go to the blue hole and feed the fish, can we do a trail run, can we go see the butterflies, have the tadpoles become frogs yet? can we go to the nature explore and go through the cave, do you have a flashlight, will you play checkers with me, I want to dig in the sand, can we pick more beans. . .”

As overwhelming as that can be at the end of a long day of work, I’ve learned to cherish that onslaught each Monday as my daughter and I have our weekly date. There are so many things she loves to do at the Nature Center at Lost River Cave that she can never settle on just one without some guidance. I know that after a day at school for her and a day at work for me, we will have a much more pleasant evening if I let her release some of that pent up energy. I like to encourage her natural curiosity, and I know that not only is it a great release of energy, but also a way to continue her passion for learning. You don’t have to take my word for it though, there are a lot more qualified people than me who have written about the value of fueling curiosity in kids.

To encourage more parents to take advantage of the only nature center in Warren county, I thought I’d share three of my favorite free activities for kids at Lost River Cave.

1. Explore the nature trails.

A Collage of Baxter's Shots from Lost River Cave

Our longest standing nature centered activity at Lost River Cave has been the nature trail. A wonderful way to get a child, or adult, some unstructured outdoor activity is to simply head out on the trails. Stop by the visitor center, and let your child carry a map and decide which way to go at each crossroads while exploring the trails, spend time at the butterfly habitat and each of the blue holes and whatever you do, don’t miss visiting the spring at the back end of the trail. What a great way for a kid to get some exercise, and practice basic map reading skills.

DSC_0667

2. Discover the Nature Explore Outdoor Classroom.

Have your children ever built a log cabin? When is the last time they picked tomatoes? Have they explored a “cave” without the risk of getting lost. At the Lost River Cave Nature Explore Classroom they can do all these things. There is an area for building with logs, a tunnel for kids to crawl through, and a platform from which to overlook the wetlands. We even have a musical stage. Bring your own instruments, or perform on our outdoor marimba. Mom and Dad can sit comfortably for a game of checkers while the kids run from one activity to another. For a small fee (enough to replenish our supplies) you can even get an art kit so the kids can create nature inspired art.

In fact, if you mention this blog post, you can use an art kit for no fee that day!

3. Fall has begun, make a leaf collection.

Whether you explore the trail, or stay in the Nature Explore Classroom, a leaf collection is a great way to keep kids minds engaged with nature. Younger children can sort leaves by shape and color, while more advanced thinkers can use them to identify the trees they came from. Leaves even make for great art projects.

For a full list of activities at Lost River Cave, just click here.

How can we offer these wonderful activities for free? The funding comes from memberships at Lost River Cave. For more information on memberships click here.

EARTH DAY CELEBRATION CANCELED

DUE TO RAIN, THE EARTH DAY CELEBRATION TODAY HAS BEEN CANCELED! We are sorry for any inconvenience this may cause.