Summer is lingering in New England, and while we actually had time for an adventure over the beautiful Labor Day weekend, the last thing I wanted to do on a sweltering hot day was hike thousands of feet closer to the sun. Every body of water in the state was bound to be packed, so what could we do to enjoy some exercise outside without the fear of heat stroke? How about exploring some caves?
So we drove to Rumney, NH, site of Polar Caves Park, and went exploring. The park features a gift shop, a small animal area, a Maple Sugar House with a museum, some short nature trails, mining areas for kids, and caves that stay under 60 degrees during the hottest part of the day.
The caves are granite, not limestone, so there are no stalagmites or stalactites. They were carved into the side of a cliff by glaciers about 50,000 years ago, and the park has built decking throughout to make passage safer and easier. It’s not true spelunking, but it is fun.
As you make your way through the park you will climb, descend, crawl, squeeze, squat and hunch your way through nine rocky hollows with names like Fat Man’s Misery, The Needle’s Eye, and The Lemon Squeeze. Each cave comes with its own challenges. And its own smells.
I really enjoyed our time there. It was occasionally claustrophobic, dark, and tight, but I’m proud to say that we successfully made our way through all the caves. I would recommend the trip to other adults who enjoy this kind of thing and have the stamina and flexibility to contort their way through the caves. My husband is 6’2″ and made his way through the park without injury. Polar Caves Park can be a fun day and a great memory.
BUT, I have to add a couple of thoughts (opinions entirely my own) about taking your kids to the park. Obviously this is the type of place where kids can have a blast, but please consider the limitations of each child in your party.
I saw three toddlers take hard falls, one resulting in a split lip. I saw a fourth toddler whose parents determined that the scary rash that had suddenly appeared down the back of her legs was actually scrape marks. There were also several kids crying hysterically because they were terrified by the idea of going into a small, dark space, but their parents kept trying to force them to go – alone – because the adults were either unable or unwilling to go with them. So please, if you’re bringing kids, be the parent that puts in the forethought to make sure that everyone you bring should be there and has a safe and fun time.