Crystal Onyx Cave: One of the Best Exhibitions in Kentucky

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Crystal Onyx Cave is a beautiful show cave located in Kentucky, USA. Many call it one of the best, if not the best exhibition caves in the state. Located by Prewitt’s Knob, it’s not far from Mammoth Cave National Park, which is one of the main attractions in Kentucky (the other being the Louisville Mega Caverns).

Crystal Onyx Cave is a thriving underground ecosystem, where families often go for a laidback and brief caving adventure.

First established in 1960, the site is run by a friendly family and offers tours with no predetermined itineraries. Visitors are welcome to take their time exploring the cave and taking photographs of the fascinating formations.

During your hour-long, half-mile journey through the cave, you’ll get close to various formations. The tour group size is kept small, the pace is very easygoing, and there are plenty of opportunities to stop and snap pictures of the fantastic sights along the way.

Read on to learn more about Crystal Onyx Cave and how you can plan a trip for your friends or family.

A wide view of the inside of Crystal Onyx Cave, where it is well-lit to display extensive formations.

The Origins of Crystal Onyx

An image shows the various flowwall and stalactite formations found inside Crystal Onyx Cave.

Cleon Turner discovered Crystal Onyx Cave in 1960, and this article summarizes his memoir. Bones from humans that scientists have analyzed were among the items he uncovered.

After being featured in the Glasgow Daily Times, the Crystal Onyx cave finally opened to the public in 1965.

Another item on Cleon and the cave appeared in the Times in 1970. The stories of several people trapped in Prewitt’s Knob caves and eventually rescued are featured.

Step outside, and stroll to one of the many sinkholes or caves on our site to begin your journey. You’ll take sturdy concrete and steel stairs into a well-lit cave full of speleothem.

The winding paths have recently been updated with new steps, handrails, and manicured crushed limestone.

Because a family runs it, Crystal Onyx can take a more casual approach and offer tours that are less likely to follow a script.

Trip Overview of Crystal Onyx

The parking lot is tiny, and there is a severe lack of parking. The entrance and outside of the gift shop are quite impressive. There are covered tents and tables with games like checkers and connect four.

During the tour’s lighting segment, they do some neat things with a UV ray light and a strobe light, making this an exciting and distinctive feature. There wasn’t much physical activity involved in the tour itself.

You tend to concentrate on just three or four essential locations, exploring each one and learning about its fascinating past. This is a guided tour rather than an exploration.

The tour guides have extensive knowledge of the cave’s history and the many stunning cave formations it contains. Your admission fee covers a fossil dig; if you find three, you can keep them.

The cave is stunning, and it has a fascinating past. Not only are the stalactites and stalagmites beautiful, but so are the other formations in this cave. You can buy tickets in the gift store, which sells various crystals and other items. Getting there is easy, as the path is tarred.

A look from above at a stairway leading down into the depths of Crystal Onyx Cave.

According to the website, there are around 135 steps in total. While you shouldn’t have much trouble reaching the top, note that there are several very damp stairs, some of which are quite steep.

The upper cave takes nearly an hour to traverse (and they also have a lower cave that is even bigger). They also have a fantastic gift shop. Outside and within the shop are collections of intriguing statues and figurines that can be used as photo props. There are a lot of prehistoric animals and space invaders. Even within the cave, this was a recurring theme.

The Crystal Onyx Cave Tour

You can choose between two different magnificent tour routes. It is a constant 58 degrees Fahrenheit in the cave, so dress warmly. If you have caving boots already, this is as good a time as any to use them. If not, comfortable walking shoes are a must.

A look at the long winding walkway that people take on the cave tour.

Please plan on spending at least 2 hours here, not counting travel time, if you need to make it to another nearby restaurant for a reservation.

Tours last for an hour and leave every 35 minutes. Reservations are not required. Daily access during the season (March – October 31). Visit the official Crystal Onyx Cave website to learn more about the tours they offer and when they are available (including the off-season).

Recent work has provided upgrades to the stairs, paths, handrails, and lighting.

What Not to Do When Touring the Cave:

The cave has a strict no-bags policy. Walking sticks won’t be permitted either, with exceptions made only in cases of medical necessity.

  • No tripods or selfie sticks allowed.
  • Only front-carrying infant carriers are permitted; no piggybacking allowed.
  • The cave is a no-snack, no-drink, no-gum, no-tobacco, no-vapor zone.
  • You cannot bring animals, other than assistance animals with sufficient training. Bear in mind that the entire cave is irritating.
  • To keep the cave system in good condition, there are no permanent restrooms, although clean porta-potties are on hand.
  • The Crystal Onyx Cave has enough lighting, so torches are unnecessary.
  • There are plenty of fantastic photo places, but they’ll have to wait till they leave the cave to use their phones. Airplane mode, auto-flash, and a fully charged battery are other suggestions.


Credit card payments incur a small cost, and veterans receive special pricing. Enting all of the caves is a fee because they all need to be maintained. Upper Tour Admission is $16; Lower Tour Discount Tickets are available for $8.

Inquire about off-season rates if you want to explore the Crystal Onyx Cave. This is because they change from time to time. Any bank-related credit card transactions will incur a 3% processing fee.

In the off-season, you can take a private tour of a cave full of interesting rock formations. Private tours are available all year by contacting the park. Parking for large vehicles, such as RVs, is available.

Hotels Near Crystal Onyx Cave

Since Crystal Onyx Cave is so close to the National Park, you may want to stay at The Lodge at Mammoth Cave and kill two birds with one stone. On the other hand, if you want to see some of our better recommendations, a few hotels are included below.

Grand Victorian Inn

Distance: 6.7 miles (10.8 km)

Rating: 9.2/10 (200+ reviews)

Sleep Inn & Suites Cave City

Distance: 2.7 miles (4.4 km)

Rating: 8.4 (500+ reviews)

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