Summer Fun: Coasters, Caves, and Canoes

Mammoth water coaster

Holiday World and Splashin’ Safari in Santa Claus is the definitive place to find the best thrill coasters in the Midwest. The park has four “adult” coasters: The Raven, which opened in 1995; The Legend, 2000; The Voyage, 2006; and the newest coaster, Thunderbird, which opened in 2015. They also have a kids’ coaster, The Howler, which opened in 1999. 

The Raven is the park’s original wooden roller coaster, and although it is the smallest of the four, it still offers a mighty ride. 

The coaster is 110 feet from the highest point to the lowest, 2,800 feet long, and has a maximum speed of a little over 50 mph. One of its most famous features is an “S curve” that zips riders through the woods, which was actually created to save a row of trees. 

The Legend travels at a maximum speed of 65 mph and is 116 feet tall from the highest point to the lowest. It’s 4,042 feet long and features a double helix, and has the world’s first spiral drop. It also features five tunnels. While most coasters are built for negative G-forces that cause “airtime,” The Legend was built for lateral G-force, which moves you from side to side.

The Voyage is a thrilling ride that spans 173 feet from the highest to the lowest point of the ride, stretching 1.2 miles long, with its maximum speed reaching 67.4 mph. It features three 90-degree banked turns and is an “out-and-back” style coaster. 

The Voyage is a thrilling ride that spans 173 feet from the highest to the lowest point of the ride, stretching 1.2 miles long, with its maximum speed reaching 67.4 mph. It features three 90-degree banked turns and is an “out-and-back” style coaster.

Thunderbird is the park’s steel coaster, a wing coaster where riders travel on the side of the track instead of on top or below. This definitely gives you a unique experience, having that feeling of nothing above or below you as you fly through the woods.  

If you’d prefer to stay closer to Earth, then let’s take a plunge below the surface to check out the area’s caves and caverns. First up: Indiana Caverns. 

Located near Corydon, Indiana Caverns is part of the Binkley Cave system, boasting amazing waterfalls, an underground river and diverse cave life. The cave, known as a “show cave,” was developed and opened in 2013 by Gary Roberson, who has over 40 years’ experience working in and with the cave systems in Southern Indiana. 

Located near Corydon, Indiana Caverns is part of the Binkley Cave system, boasting amazing waterfalls, an underground river and diverse cave life. The cave, known as a “show cave,” was developed and opened in 2013 by Gary Roberson, who has over 40 years’ experience working in and with the cave systems in Southern Indiana.

There’s plenty to do at Indiana Caverns. One option is to take their 80-minute tour, which combines both walking and a 20-minute boat ride. They also offer the Cavern of the Sabertooth, a cave simulator where you crawl through a pipe for almost 400 feet underground, wearing a helmet. They also offer the Deep Darkness Tour, which involves climbing down a 93-foot ladder with belay, continuing on another descent down a slope to a subterranean river and then kayaking on the river through the cave.

Indiana Caverns also offers guests escape rooms, thrilling rides like the Bat Chaser and The Plunge, and gemstone mining. 

Crawford County is home to Marengo Cave, designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1984.  

Marengo offers two unique walking tours: the Crystal Palace, an easy tour that winds through formation-filled rooms, and the Dripstone Trail, a 60-minute tour that showcases delicate soda straws and totem pole stalagmites. Other adventures include the Waterfall Crawl tour and the Underground Adventure where you crouch, crawl and wade through an underground river. 

There’s more to Marengo than just exploring through the caves. There are camping sites, cabins, a specialty rock shop and surface activities like a mega maze, pedal carts, the sky climber slide and gemstone mining. 

There’s more to Marengo than just exploring through the caves. There are camping sites, cabins, a specialty rock shop and surface activities like a mega maze, pedal carts, the sky climber slide and gemstone mining.

Finally, in Mauckport, you’ll find the wonderful Squire Boone Caverns. 

The main attraction is the cave tour, which takes you through a third of a mile of cavern passageway. The caverns are considered to be “living caves” that carry more than a million gallons of water through the cave and over rarely seen underground waterfalls. Tours take place through the main passageway, so visitors can take a leisurely walk with no crawling involved. The trained tour guides take you through the passageway, making many stops to explain the formations, how the cave was formed and talk about Squire. The tour lasts about an hour. 

Other attractions include the barnyard with rescued animals such as goats, sheep and mini pigs. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, they open their pioneer village. They also offer a huge rock shop, gem mining and Boone’s Kitchen with sandwiches, cookies and drinks.

Other attractions include the barnyard with rescued animals such as goats, sheep and mini pigs. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, they open their pioneer village. They also offer a huge rock shop, gem mining and Boone’s Kitchen with sandwiches, cookies and drinks.

After daredevil roller coaster riding and exploring cool caves, let your cares drift away as you paddle through our beautiful waterways in a relaxing canoe.

Cave Country Canoes, in Milltown, has a storied past of great mills, lumber and lime kilns. At one time there were rows and rows of beautiful Victorian homes and quaint cottages, most with a river view.

Cave Country Canoes, in Milltown, has a storied past of great mills, lumber and lime kilns. At one time there were rows and rows of beautiful Victorian homes and quaint cottages, most with a river view.

There are two trips visitors can take. One is the upper river 7-mile trip that lasts anywhere from two to five hours. Hosts transport you from camp base to their private launch site, then guests can canoe or kayak back. This trip is best for beginners, but there are a few small rapids along the way. 

The full-day trip starts at the base camp, where participants paddle downstream 14 miles and are picked up at a location called Rothrock’s Mill. This trip takes five to seven hours and offers more rapids, tighter turns and drops.  

Old Mill Canoe in Fredericksburg runs trips on the Blue River, offering excursions ranging from 3 miles to 57 miles, but their regular trip is 12 miles from Fredericksburg to their private campground, Blue River Retreat.

Old Mill Canoe in Fredericksburg runs trips on the Blue River, offering excursions ranging from 3 miles to 57 miles, but their regular trip is 12 miles from Fredericksburg to their private campground, Blue River Retreat.

Blue River is part of the Indiana Natural, Scenic and Recreational River System and is governed by the Blue River Commission. This means that all you’ll see is nature and wildlife, no buildings or structures of any kind. When water levels are low, the water is crystal clear; during the winter months, the water takes on an incredible blue-green hue; and after a heavy rain, it will look like chocolate milk. All seasons of the year, all phases of the water, there is no place more beautiful than the Blue River. •

For more information on the attractions mentioned here, check the following websites:  holidayworld.com, oldmillcanoerental.com, cavecountrycanoes.com, squireboonecaverns.com, indianacaverns.com.  

Story by Julie Engelhardt  // Photos submitted by Holiday World & Splashin’ safari, Old Mill Canoe, Squire Boones Caverns, Marengo Cave, and Indiana Caverns.

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