Kentucky – Louisville MEGA Cavern – Underground zip lining and more
Kentucky is known for its incredible cave country, but the Louisville MEGA Cavern isn’t that type of cave. This cavern is a former limestone mine with clever owners who keep finding new business opportunities for the cavern, including the world’s first and only underground zip line course, an underground Christmas light display, a tram tour, and the newest addition, a ropes course. In addition to the recreational businesses, the cavern is also used for recycling, storage of RV’s and PODS®, other businesses, and was equipped to be a nuclear fallout shelter during the Cold War.
I first visited the Louisville MEGA Cavern during a conference with the Midwest Travel Writers Association. I tried the MEGA Zips course and knew that I just HAD to go back again with my kids. We went down to Louisville with my friend Laura and her kids because it is within a two-hour radius of Cincinnati which is the territory for the book we wrote together. We are very appreciative of the Louisville MEGA Cavern and the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau for hosting our trip and offering us complimentary admission so that we could write about it. All of us took the tram tour together, but since zip lining is for ages 8 and up, Laura stayed behind with her 4-year-old daughter. Because they have a limit of 12 participants, you need to schedule your zip lining session in advance. Then be sure to arrive about 45 minutes early and don’t forget to wear close-toed shoes. You’ll start your zip tour in an equipment room where your guides will lead you through the process of putting on a full harness and getting it tightened up.
Then you’ll put on a hard hat that has a head lamp attached. The lamp can be switched between white and red lights. The white light is so you can see where you’re walking in the dark cavern between zip lines and the red light is so that the guides can see you while you’re zipping. A small drawstring pouch is attached to the front of your harness so that you can bring your camera or phone with you. There’s even a wi-fi hotspot inside the cavern so you can post pictures during your zip tour. (I told you the owners were clever.) And since you don’t want to bring your purse or other valuables on the zip tour, they’ve got a trunk where they can lock up your belongings until you get back. Here’s our gang all suited up and ready to go.
The course has six zip lines and two rope bridges.The first zip line is the Bunny Zip, a short line that isn’t very high off the ground. This should help any reluctant participants to get over any fears before you progress to the longer and faster lines in the darker parts of the cavern.
Here’s a video of one of my daughters zipping down the Bunny Zip.
There are two guides with every group. One of the guides goes down each zip line first so that there is always one guide helping with takeoffs and another helping with landings.
The other zip lines are in much darker areas. Many of the cavern passages have dim lighting. I used a flash in some of my pictures which is a little misleading about how dark the cavern is. Here’s a picture without a flash.
The “Zip Line to Hell” has strands of red Christmas lights on the cavern floor to represent hot magma. Here’s a video of my other daughter on the Zip Line to Hell. It’s a little hard to see her at first. Look for the moving red light.
The guides are knowledgeable and tell jokes and anecdotes along the way. They also make sure that everyone stays safe. You can walk between some of the zip lines, but if there is any danger of falling, the guides will tether everyone to a safety line between zips.
There are two rope bridges that you have to cross to get to the next zip line. I think that this part might be scarier than the zipping, especially if your teenage son is behind you on the bridge jumping up and down.
The picture above was taken with a flash. Here’s what the bridge looks like in the dark. But, remember you do have a head lamp to help you see where you’re going.
The kids must not have thought it was very scary, or they wouldn’t be smiling like this.
Our kids loved the experience, especially when the guides encouraged them to let go of the handle bar and go cannonball style on one of the lines. The last line is a dual line where family members can race each other. I raced my teenage son and he won.
While the MEGA Zips Course was definitely the highlight of our visit, the Louisville MEGA Cavern has three other attractions worth noting here. If you only do the zip line course, you’ll be left wondering, “So what is this place?” The Historic Tram Tour answers all your questions. It lasts about 70 minutes and is narrated by an entertaining guide. You’ll learn all about the history of the cavern and see what it would have looked like had it been needed as a nuclear fallout shelter.
At Christmas time, the cave is decorated with lights for a drive-through light show. We haven’t been to this attraction yet, but it looks like a very unique way to see Christmas lights. They call it Lights Under Louisville.
The MEGA Quest area is brand new and has ropes courses for kids ages 5 and up with swinging rope and wooden bridges, cargo nets, tunnels, and a zip line. I saw this area while it was still under construction, and it looks like lots of fun. Sign up for a three-hour session and you’ll be harnessed up and can choose either an easy, medium, or hard path through the course.
Ready to visit?
Louisville MEGA Cavern
1841 Taylor Avenue, Louisville, KY 40213
$59 Early Bird – available for tours at 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. on weekdays only
Adults and children pay the same price
Historic Tram Tours
$8 Children (3–11)
Free Children 2 and under
$29 Children (5-11)
Lights Under Louisville
$25 per car, truck, SUV, or minivan