Lost River Cave and Valley

Useful Information

Lost River Cave, Kentucky. Public Domain.
Location: In Bowling Green, Warren County, Kentucky. I-65 exit 22 Scottsville Road U.S. 231. Follow Scottsville Road to the north, turn left onto Cave Mill Road, turn right/North on U.S.-31-W, on the right side.
Open: Visitor Center: All year daily 8:30-18.
Cave Boat Tour: All year daily 9-17, every hour on the full hour.
Tours temporarily suspended during floods.
Closed Thanksgiving, 25-DEC, 01-JAN.
Fee: 25-MAY to SEP: Adults USD 13.95, Children (5-12) USD 9.95, Children (0-4) USD 2.95, Seniors (65+) USD 12.95.
OCT to 24-MAY: Adults USD 11.50, Children (5-12) USD 8.50, Children (0-4) USD 2.50, Seniors (65+) USD 10.50.
Internet coupon.
[2006] Cave Boat Tour: Adults USD 19.95, Children (4-12) USD 16.95, Children (0-3) USD 5.95.
Walk-In Tours:
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=14 °C.
Guided tours: D=45 min, 20 min walk, 25 min by boat.
Bibliography: (): The Spirit of Lost River, available at the gift shop
Address: Friends of Lost River Cave, Inc., 2818 Nashville Road, Bowling Green, KY 42101, Tel: +1-270-393-0077, Fax: +1-270-393-0076. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


Lost River Cave, Kentucky. Public Domain.
7,500 BC inhabited by Native Americans.
179? first cave mill with undershot water wheel established.
1868 according to local folklore, Jesse James and his gang have hidden here after the robbery of the Russellville bank.
1874 more sophisticated mill opened.
1915 mill burned and was never rebuilt.
1933 Underground Nite Club opened with the end of prohibition (actually?).
196? club closed.
1970s purchased by WKU professor Dr. Raymond Cravens and WKU Physical Plant Administrator Owen Lawson.
1986 donated to Western Kentucky University.
1990 Friends of Lost River, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, incorporated to restore and develop the cave.
1993 cave opened for limited tours.
1994 electric light.
1999 boat tour started.
2000 opened for visitation on a daily basis.


Lost River Cave, Kentucky. Public Domain.

The cave entrance of Lost River Cave is really impressive. It was used for shelter by Native Americans for the last 10,000 years. Early settlers used the water power of the river in the 19th century for milling. In the mid 20th century an Underground Nite Club was operated in the cave, which used the water to produce electricity.

The cave actually avoided most damages common at other known caves. It luck was WKU professor Dr. Raymond Cravens and WKU Physical Plant Administrator Owen Lawson. They purchased the land in the 1970s, donated it to the WKU in the 1980s and finally a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, Friends of Lost River, Inc., was incorporated to restore and develop the cave. Development plans in the vicinity were solved by purchasing the land and so the preserve has 70 acres today.

The cave visit includes a 20 minute walk along the river to the cave entrance and a 25 minute boat tour into the cave. The cave was dammed by the operator in 1999, which made boat tours on the cave river possible. The first boat tours were made the same year.

The cave valley has about 3.5 km of trails, which lead to interesting historic and karst geologic sites. Three so called blue holes are collapses of the cave, dolines, showing the "lost" river. And this river really ia a lost river, as it is only about 110 m long, from Lost River Spring until it vanishes into the cave entrance.

The cave and buildings are used for various receptions and weddings. The Historic Cavern Nite Club is reminiscent of the historic Underground Nite Club from the 1930s. It is located in the cave portal, where a sections was covered by a roof on poles to stop the dripping water. It features the original bandstand and bar, and a glimmering crystal chandelier, which creates a touch of elegance. The Nite Club accommodates up to 300 guests.