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Getting out of town and underground

Woodward Cave’s “Tower of Babel” is the largest stalagmite in Pennsylvania.
Woodward Cave’s “Tower of Babel” is the largest stalagmite in Pennsylvania. Centre Daily Times, file

Editor’s note: This story is part of the Road Trips special section.

For visitors to the Centre County region looking for a rustic, family-friendly getaway, or for locals wanting to escape State College for a few days, Woodward Cave and Campground is the perfect chance to enjoy a little bit of nature not far from home.

The cave itself is one of the largest in the state, with five subterranean rooms all offering visitors their own unique geological wonders. One-hour tours led by experienced guides give visitors the grand tour. The cave’s ballroom has been used for events in the past; the Dragon’s Den Room features helictites and cave coral; the Hanging Forest shows the largest collection of stalactites in the cave system. The Upper Room boasts 60-foot ceilings, and the 200-foot-long Hall of Statues offers the grand Tower of Babel — one of the largest stalagmites in the state, at 14 feet tall. For those looking for a little bit of a spooky edge, you can even convince your fellow cave-goers that the site is haunted — it was, after all, rumored to be a burial ground for a Seneca chief by the name of Red Panther.

There’s no need to actually be camping to enjoy the cave, if that’s not your preference. You’re welcome to show up (make sure to bring proper clothing to accommodate for the chillier underground temperatures) and take advantage of the educational tours.

The cave is open all week during the summer. The visiting hours, however, change according to the month. Check the website, www.woodwardcave .com, to plan your visit.

Cave tours start at $6 for children ages 4-12 and $12 for those 13 and older. All children younger than 4 can enter for free. Special group rates are available for schools, scout groups and groups of 10 or more. If traveling in a group, you can arrange for an after-dark flashlight tour.

For those who would like to camp at the adjacent campground, you can choose from normal campsites, perfect for tents and RVs alike, or one of the rent-able, two-bedroom cabins. The campground is 13 acres of landscaped greenery facing the cave, with electric hook-up available, and rates starting at $18 per night for tent camping. Cabin rentals start at $45 per night. The Woodward Cave Guest House is also available and is an off-site, historic log home reserved for VIPs only (namely, previous campers or special guests).

In addition to the cave and campground, the nearby Trout Lily Meadow is also an attraction for those visiting the cave or camping. The site of an array of distinct botanical species, it attracts groups such as the Pennsylvania Native Plant Society, and is the perfect spot to go hunt down some native wild flowers during the summer season.

If you go

What: Woodward Cave

When: April-October

Where: 148 Woodward Cave Drive, Woodward

Info: www.woodwardcave.com

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