Put on your best spelunking boots and head to Polar Caves Park deep in the White Mountains in Rumney, New Hampshire. Roughly 50,000 years ago, New Hampshire was completely covered by a colossal glacier that measured over a mile high! As the ice retreated, the mountains cracked and boulders broke away, producing winding pathways, caves and other amazing rock deposits in its wake. Today, you can explore these Polar Caves on your own or take a guided tour!
What can I expect to see in the caves?
Although these caves are unlike limestone regions where you would typically encounter stalagmites, they do have their own unique features. The actual geology of the Polar Caves reaches as far back as the Paleozoic Era, which is roughly 200 to 300 million years ago! During that time, hot, liquid magma pushed upward from the earth’s core and through ancient sea sediment deposits to cool and form much of the state’s granite. Mixed with this granite are stunning exposures of feldspar, mica, quartz, beryl and garnet! When you walk about the winding trails and all of their glittering minerals, you feel as if you too are placed within this incredible passage of time.
What else is there to do?
Not only will you have the opportunity to explore stunning rock formations and dark, deep caves, but the Polar Caves Park has other attractions as well. Gorgeous Fallow deer, a variety of pheasants from around the world and waddling groups of ducks wait eagerly for visitors and open palms full of corn. There are also hiking trails that wend around a stunning pine forest. In addition to these outdoors activities, you can also pop into the Maple Sugar House & Museum and sample some sugary treats while you learn about the history of maple sugar production in the state. For a closer look at the entire park, take this Virtual Tour.
When is it open and how much does it cost?
The Polar Caves Park is open daily at 9am during all seasons, rain or shine. The last ticket is sold at 5pm. Sometimes, during the off-season, the park does close early. Be sure to call ahead to verify whether or not this is the case if you intend on visiting during the winter months.
Although prices are always subject to change, here are the most current ticket prices from their website:
Ages 11 and up: $16.50
with guided tour: $19.50
Ages 4-10: $11.50
with guided tour $14.50
Is there anything I should know before going?
The caves are visited most frequently when the weather is hot, but if you plan on investigating all the nooks and crannies within, it is advised not to wear flip-flops or any shoes that could accidentally fall off. Many of the stairs are steel and would be uncomfortable to walk on in flimsy or uncomfortable shoes. Also, families with babies or toddlers should know that the caves were not designed to accommodate strollers. Even child backpacks could be dangerous as you weave and tuck within the rocks. The temperature in the caves stays at a general 55 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months so only pack a jacket if this temperature might make you shiver. The busiest hours are typically during lunchtime from 11-2pm, so if are claustrophobic or dislike crowds, try showing up in the morning or late afternoon. The last tickets may sell at 5pm, but the park stays open until six to accommodate “last minute” adventurers.
Where can I stay when I visit?
If you are planning an overnight visit or a more prolonged stay, definitely check out our helpful link for Lodging and Accommodations. There are also plenty of Campgroundsaround this area to hunker down in as well.