It is a bare-bones operation with excavation continuing, so maybe that's why the $20 price for adults and $10 for kids under 12 seemed so steep and although I still think that price is a little much, Trail Guide James certainly made the 40-minute tour much more enjoyable than anticipated. Our children were fully engaged, which meant James had to respond to a barrage of questions, but he patiently answered each and every one. No doubt he appreciated that the other four visitors in our group were from Asia and admittedly did not attempt to converse; otherwise, he would have lost his voice before the conclusion of the trip due to responding to so many queries. One of the reasons why he knows so much about the caves and the on-going excavation is because he currently works with the excavation team and that insight provided a greater understanding of the caves and what's in store for them in the future.
The thing that I appreciated the most about these caverns is that although you cannot touch them, you can get really close to the stalactite, stalagmite and helectite formations and because Trail Guide James was so informative, I learned a great deal more than I thought I would. The folksy and who-cares attitude can be off-putting for the cavern connoisseur; however, like an iceberg, the Crystal Grottoes has so much more going for itself underground and really, is the visitor there for the gift shop or is the visitor there to learn something new? If the gift shop is your true destination, then you are much better off visiting the more garish and over-priced Luray and Shenandoah Caverns. Bring your cash, because no other type of payment is accepted and suspend your expectations because if you do, you'll be pleasantly surprised as I was.
Tip #1: Bring cash. That's the only way to pay!
Tip #2: Dress appropriately. Underground temperature is 54 degrees, all year long. That's pretty chilly, especially if you're dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Bring a jacket.
Getting there: 19821 Shepherdstown Pike, Boonsboro, MD 21713
Hours: Winter Hours are Saturday and Sunday, 11 am - 4 pm; more extended hours during warmer months.
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