You’re zipping through the dimly lit cavern at speeds of up to 40 miles per hour, dangling from a cable, the cavern floor 70 feet below you. Surprisingly, the anxiety you felt a moment ago, just before you lifted your feet off the platform and began your zip, gives way to a sense of exhilarating freedom as you breeze through the cool dampness of the world below the surface of the earth. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced zip liner, the Mega Zip in the Louisville Mega Cavern is a one-of-a-kind experience that will leave you awestruck.
The man-made Mega Cavern is a former limestone mine, mined from the 1930s to the early 1970s, the limestone used to build bridges and roads throughout the Midwest. Seventeen miles of passageways run through the 100 acres of the Mega Cavern, considered the largest building in Kentucky. About 70 percent of the Louisville Zoo is over the cavern that also runs beneath all ten lanes of the Watterson Expressway.
Today much of the Mega Cavern has been converted into warehouses. Geologists have determined that the cavern can withstand tornado-like winds of up to 260 miles per hours, making the Mega Cavern warehouses ideal for storage and the safest place in Kentucky.
But part of the former mine is being left as is for the zip line tour, with deep caverns and natural limestone walls. On the tour you would never know that you are so close to businesses and the busyness of the city above. The caverns look like any natural cavern, sans natural formations like stalactites and stalagmites that are just beginning to form.
Your two guides will orient your group of up to 12, and you’ll get to practice on a short low-to-the-ground bunny zip to get the feel for positioning and landing before you board a tram that will take you deeper into the cavern for the real thing. You’ll launch off of wooden platforms that become progressively higher and closer to cliff edge as you move from zip line to zip line, testing your courage and fortitude. You’ll cross suspension bridges three times, balancing on a walking surface about 12 inches wide. You’ll feel the bounce and sway of the bridges as you cross over deep canyons. The last zip line is a dual line, with the highest launching platforms of all, and you’ll race a fellow zipper across the canyon to the finish line, once again with a sense of exhilaration as you swoosh through the air for the last time of the tour.
If zip lining isn’t for you but you’d like to see the cavern, you can take a Historic Tram Tour instead. Mega Cavern experts will educate you throughout the tour on the history and geology of the cavern. Your guide will point out early cavern formations, you’ll see a replica of the Cuban missile fallout bunker that once existed in the cavern, and much more.
The Louisville Mega Cavern is located at 1841 Taylor Avenue, Louisville Kentucky. Tours are available year-round in all weather, since the cavern is completely indoors. For tour information or reservations, call (877) 614-6342 or visit the Louisville Mega Cavern web site. Louisville, Kentucky, is about a five hour drive or one hour flight from Chicago.