Delaware, Ohio - Olentangy Indian Caverns
Just off of U.S. 23 there is Olentangy Indian Caverns. You enter a small cabin that houses the entrance to the caverns and descend down two flights of stairs. Here you enter the beginning of the caverns (which will take you 105 ft. below the surface). At certain points there are buttons to push where you will hear audio about the history of the caverns. There are many interesting facts and sights here. There is a formation that is said to resemble Chief Leather Lips, a possible Indian burial ground, carvings in the walls dating back to the 1800s etc. If you stop at each area and listen to all of the history it can take 45 min. to an hour to make it all the way through. Once you make it back to the surface there is a trading post, a small petting zoo, a climbing wall, and an area that looks like an old western town.
According to the management of Olentangy Indian Caverns, the cave was first used as a gathering place for local Indians and as a storage depot. In the early 1800s a settler named J. Adams was camped near the hidden entrance to the cave. The next day one of his ox was missing and so a search began to find it. During this search he came across the entrance and could see his lost animal, dead at the bottom of the entrance. Adams went down to explore the cave and carved his name and date on the wall.
It is claimed that Chief Leatherlips was killed at the entrance to the cave, but this is doubtful. This claim is attributed to a book written in 1953 by Cleveland resident, Grace Goulder Izant, called This is Ohio in which she described people and events in all 88 of Ohio's counties. Chief Leatherlips was killed as related, but the event was described by several eyewitnesses to being along the cliffs of the Scioto River. There is a marker at 7377 Riverside Drive on the east side of the Scioto River, south of the Columbus Zoo that was erected in 1889, some 79 years after his death. Whether Chief Leatherlips ever visited the Olentangy Indian Caverns is pure speculation.
Today, the caverns are setup for either self-guided tours or for just a little more you can take the guided tour that takes about 30 - 45 minutes depending on how many questions get asked and how chipper your guide is for the day. Totally worth it as the caverns are full of history that include Indian chiefs and stage coach thieves. During the tour you can expect to see the crystal room that glistens with stalagmites, an underground river and squeeze your way through "fat man's misery".
Olentangy Indian Caverns at first glance, looks like a hokey tourist trap, but actually it is a unique experience to the explorer interested in Indian lore and a natural wonderland. For the geology student, the fossils and various rock strata provide some first hand educational information. For the tourist, a trip through the Caverns re-creates the days of when there were actually some Indian tribes in Ohio. The limestone caverns are naturally air conditioned, with year-round temperature a constant 54 degrees and the caverns are damp, so bring along appropriate clothing, even in the summer.
On the tour you'll descend 105' below the surface and explore the winding passages of this 3 level cave. The tour is an event that you will long remember, so bring your camera and wear sturdy shoes. The Olentangy Indian Caverns isn’t for the hard-core adventurer, but it’s a great experience for families, or if you're looking for something to do on a hot summer day.
Artifacts found in the caverns indicate it was used as an Indian council room. There were also indication that Wyandot's used the caverns for making arrows and other stone implements until around 1810. Hundreds of these items were found when the caverns were opened and some are on display in the Gift Shop.
Several parts on the tour are tight fitting and you'll have to squeeze through a few areas. If you are overweight, handicapped or extremely tall, you may want to consider other options. However, if you do decide to visit the caverns, you'll wish you could spend more time there.
$8.50 - 16 years and older
$5.00 - 7 to 15 years old
6 and under is FREE
10% senior citizen discount
10% AAA member discount
Located in Delaware County
1779 Home Road
Delaware, OH 43015
Although you may have noticed plenty of signs directing you to the Olentangy Indian Caverns, especially along SR23, on Home Road there are no directional signs and you come up on the entrance suddenly without any warning. Be careful of the traffic behind you.
Additional to do's
You can take a self-guided tour of the Indian cultural site, play on the 18-hole miniature golf course and purchase souvenirs at the Indian Trading Post. Self-guided tours in spring and fall. Guided tours every 20 minutes in summer. Open 9:30am-5 pm daily, April 1 - October 31. MC, Visa, Discover. Motorcoach groups welcome.