For residents and visitors of the Twin Cities, it can be hard to see outside the blinders that are the metro’s first place parks, award-winning eateries and breweries, and traveling Broadway shows. But there’s life outside the confines of Minneapolis and St. Paul, specifically in their neighbors to the south, and they’re worthy of your attention.
We’re all familiar with the shining stars and whirling clouds in van Gogh’s Starry Night, and the magnificence of Michelangelo’s work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. However, the craftsmanship of these classic pieces pales in comparison to the work of Mother Nature’s Niagara Cave, found in Harmony, Minn.
Rated the No. 2 cave in the nation according to USA TODAY 10 Best, this spelunker’s paradise is the result of underground streams forcing their way through porous rock to create a labyrinth of dark tunnels below the surface.
Over the course of centuries, water has seeped through the ceilings of these tunnels leaving behind calcite deposits in the form of jagged stalactites resembling icicles hanging from the edge of a rooftop in winter. Water from the ends of these stalactites (think ‘c’ for ‘ceiling’) has dripped down to the cave floor to deposit more calcite, forming cone-like structures known as stalagmites (think ‘g’ for ‘ground’), further accenting the cave’s natural beauty.
During your underground adventure that’ll have you trekking over rocky floors and ducking under low ceilings, you’ll discover some of Mother Nature’s pottery work. A 60-foot waterfall—an inspiration for the cave’s name—can be viewed from a suspended walkway, and distinctive stone formations including Elephant’s Head, the Alligator, Wishing Well, and Paul Bunyan’s Bed can be found around the shadowy twists and turns.
Once you’re done diving below the surface, Amish Tours and Slim’s Woodshed and Museum can also be found in Harmony to knock a couple more items off your southern Minnesota bucket list.