Mystery Cave tours

Photos of people enjoying Mystery Cave

Discovered in 1937, Mystery Cave is the longest cave in Minnesota. It covers over 13 miles of underground passages that were created as moving water dissolved the rock. Each tour takes you underground through different parts of the cave, and will showcase features like stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, fossils, and beautiful underground pools as your tour guide explains how the cave and these features were formed.

  • Reservations recommended. Reserve online or by calling 866-857-2757. Reservations may be booked in advance or up until 2 p.m. on the day of the tour. Any unsold tickets are available for purchase at the cave on a first-come, first-served basis. Walk-ins may be accommodated based on availability.
  • 20 tickets per tour maximum.
  • The cave temperature is 48°F (9°C), year-round. Dress warmly and wear sturdy walking shoes.
  • Flash photography is allowed.
  • All rocks and artifacts must be left in the cave.
  • There are NO restrooms underground.
Scenic tour (one hour)

Photo: visitors and interpretive naturalist in a Mystery Cave passageway.This popular one-hour guided tour provides the best overall cave experience. You'll see unique cave formations and mineral deposits, along with the pools and dramatic linear passageways that are typical for Mystery Cave and Turquoise Lake.

Many formations are actively dripping. These features are illuminated with dramatic lighting that accents the cave in light and shadow.

This stroller- and wheelchair-accessible tour involves 3/4 mile of walking on modern paved trails and metal bridges.

Tour schedule

May 27 - September 5
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekends.

September 8 - October 23
Thursday, Friday and Monday: Hourly from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Weekends: Every 20 minutes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Tour rates

  • Aged 13 and up: $15
  • Aged 5-12: $10
  • Under 5 years old: Free, but a ticket is still required.
Lantern tour (one hour)

Photo: Mystery Cave Flashlight Tour. Not available to anyone under eight years old.

This one-hour tour is a rugged guided tour with in-depth interpretation of cave geology. Lanterns provide the only light source. The long, straight passages you will travel are among the largest and longest in Mystery Cave. These passages are drier than those on the scenic tour, and there are fewer formations. You will see Blue Lake on this tour.

This tour is more physically challenging than the scenic tour and is not available to children under eight. No sandals or open-toed shoes are allowed. You will be on rugged gravel paths and uneven stone stairs.

Tour schedule

  • Memorial Day through Labor Day
  • Saturdays and Sundays at 11:30 and 3:30 p.m.
  • School groups needing a lantern tour after Labor Day should call 507-808-8000.

Tour rates

  • $18 per person, ages 8 and above
Geology tour (two hours)

Photo: A group of visitors follow a naturalist into Mystery Cave for one of the two-hour tours. Image copyright Allen Lewerer.

Not available to anyone under eight years old.

Learn about the geological processes that shaped Mystery Cave on this rugged two-hour guided tour. This tour is best for those with some knowledge of cave formation and processes.

This tour is more physically challenging than the scenic tour and is not available to children under eight. No sandals or open-toed shoes are allowed.

You will be on rugged gravel paths and uneven stone stairs, lighted by lanterns. This tour covers approximately one mile.

Tour schedule

  • Memorial Day through Labor Day
  • Saturdays at 1:30 p.m.
  • School groups needing a geology tour after Labor Day should call 507-808-8000.

Tour rates

  • $23 per person, ages 8 and above
Wild caving tour (four hours)

Cavers crawling through a tight passage.Not available to anyone under 13 years old. You must be in good physical condition for this tour.

Novice and experienced cavers can experience a more adventurous cave tour. This kind of tour is very different from walking on a paved trail! The tour is 1.6 miles round trip, up and down, over mud, dirt and boulders. The tour is strenuous, so participants should expect climbing, crawling, stooping and sliding. Mystery Cave is a constant 48 degrees.

Participants must arrive with the proper boots and a willingness to get muddy. You will be issued protective gear.

Tour schedule and rules

  • Saturdays, June 4 through August 27. Tour starts at 10 a.m. and ends between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m.
  • Each tour has a minimum of two participants and a maximum of five.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult. No participants under thirteen years old.
  • We will outfit each participant with coveralls, helmets, headlamps, small packs, gloves, and kneepads. All are required - you may not use any personal caving gear. 
  • Wear sturdy, lace-up, over the ankle boots. Bring an extra pair of street shoes, a trash bag for your dirty clothes, uncrushable snacks, and water.

Tour rates

  • $80 per person; non-refundable

DIFFICULT TOUR AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

This is a strenuous and very physical tour, available by reservation only. Participants need to be in decent physical shape, because the tour involves climbing, crawling, stooping, stretching, etc. to traverse the cave. There are several places where participants must wiggle through passage constrictions. The passages vary in size, typically three to seven feet high and three to seven feet wide. There are passages with dimensions as small as one and one-half feet that are short in duration. Long sections of passage are about three feet high.

Tour requirements

  • Participants must wear over-the-ankle laced boots with aggressive tread, and are required to bring an extra pair of shoes for after the tour. No tennis or athletic-type shoes allowed during tour! INSUFFICIENT FOOTWEAR WILL RESULT IN DENIED ACCESS. NO REFUNDS.
  • Not recommended for visitors with known heart or respiratory problems, poor circulation, or difficulty walking long distances on unlevel surfaces and negotiating stairs. Evacuation from the cave to a hospital for medical attention could take several hours.
  • Participants may bring light, uncrushable snacks.
  • In order to minimize the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has resulted in the death of over one million bats in the eastern United States, Mystery Cave has instituted stringent disinfection procedures for all off-trail caving tours. All equipment and outerwear including gloves are provided by Mystery Cave. Visitors must provide their own boots. No personal caving equipment or backpacks are allowed - NO EXCEPTIONS.
  • Mystery Cave is a constant 48 degrees. We recommend you wear polypropylene long underwear beneath the required coveralls.
Photography tour (two hours)

Photo: a cool pool in a Mystery Cave passageway.This tour is designed for those who want to use tripods or monopods in the cave. The tours provide time but not instruction for cave photography. There is no group rate for this tour. You can choose from two different cave entrances, and then set up the equipment you need to compose your photos.

This tour takes approximately two hours. The distance covered varies according to the group's needs and preferences.

Photographers must follow all basic cave conservation guidelines. Maximum six participants per tour.

Tour schedule

  • May 29 through August 28
  • Sundays from 8-10 a.m.

Tour rates

  • $40 per person
Advanced educational tour (four to six hours) 

Photo: Mystery Cave visitors on an advanced educational tour, with naturalist on stairway leading deeper down into the cave.Participants should have a strong interest in geology. You must be in good physical condition for this tour, and able to be on your feet for up to five hours.

All advanced educational tours must be pre-arranged. Call 507-808-8000 to reserve.

This special group tour provides a more detailed examination of both underground and above ground cave geology, and requires advanced reservations. It is typically offered to groups of ten or more that desire additional study of caves and karst topography, including college and advanced high school groups.

Underground

We will travel both the one-hour and two-hour underground tour routes. Discussion will cover different rock types, deposit environments, cave minerals and sediments, passage morphology, water levels, speleothem dating, and overall cave development.

Above ground

Weather permitting, the above-ground portion of the tour includes an examination of a subsidence sinkhole and a visit to Cherry Grove Blind Valley Scientific and Natural Area (5.5 miles away).

What to expect

  • This activity takes from four to six hours.
  • Be prepared for the chilly 48 degree underground conditions. Bring warm clothing and solid non-slip footwear. Leather boots are recommended.
  • Outdoor dress should be appropriate for the season. Be prepared to trek through thick vegetation.
  • Participants must provide their own transportation between the cave entrances and other karst stops (about 15 miles round trip).

Tour rates

  • $25 per person (ten person minimum)
K-12 school groups

Photo: School boys in Mystery Cave.

K-12 school tours of Mystery Cave are customized to students' level of study.

All school tours must be pre-arranged. Call 507-808-8000 to reserve.

Students will be exposed to speleothems, rocks, and groundwater, and they will be introduced to the fundamental processes that involve limestone cave formation around the globe.

Tour rates

  • Scenic tour: $5 per person
  • Lantern tour: $8 per person
  • Geology tour: $12 per person
About White-nose syndrome and the bats in the cave

A fungus that causes White-nose syndrome (WNS) in bats has been confirmed at Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park. WNS is a disease that is killing hibernating bats in eastern North America. It is believed that more than 5.7 million bats have died as a result of the disease, so far. WNS is not dangerous to humans or other animals. It is transmitted primarily from bat to bat, but can be spread by people and animals who visit infected caves or mines.

Public tours of Mystery Cave will continue. To help keep the fungus from spreading, visitors are required to walk across special mats designed to remove spores from footwear. Visitors are advised not to visit other caves or mines with any clothing, footwear or other gear they have used in areas where WNS or the associated fungus is present, because washing alone cannot sufficiently disinfect clothing.

Learn more about White-nose syndrome and what you can do to help slow its spread.

Visitor center and nature store

William H. Morrissey visitor center.

William H. Morrissey Visitor Center

The visitor center is located just steps away from the cave entrance. Purchase tour tickets, receive an orientation to the cave and the park, and explore exhibits explaining the geology and history of the area. The building hosts an information center, interactive exhibits, lecture/exhibit room, Nature Store and restrooms.

Nature store

The store is open during visitor center hours, and offers a wide variety of nature-related gifts and books. Proceeds fund resource and interpretive projects in state parks.

How to get there

Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park is located in southeastern Minnesota (Fillmore County) between Spring Valley and Preston. Entrance to the park is four miles south of State Highway 16 on Fillmore County Highway 5, then two miles east on Fillmore County 118.

To get to Mystery Cave from the park:
Take County Road 118 west to County Road 5.
Turn left and follow County Road 5 south for two miles.
Turn right onto 180th Street. Go west three quarters of a mile.
At the next intersection, turn right onto Old Cave Road.
Proceed north one half mile to the Mystery Cave Entrance Road on the left.

Detail map of directions to Mystery Cave.