Forestville/Mystery Cave State Park
By Jim Umhoefer
Forestville/Mystery Cave is a park for the passionate. The park’s unique combination of resources lures visitors who are passionate about trout fishing, horseback riding, hiking, history and cave exploration. Forestville Mystery/Mystery State Park is located about six miles northwest of Preston off the Bluff Country Scenic Byway in Minnesota’s Filmore County.
Wildlife and plants
A short hike from the town site takes you up to Zumbro Hill Cemetery where some of the early town residents are buried.
Mystery Cave, the largest in Minnesota and 36th largest in the country, is an intricate maze of more than 12 miles of interconnected passageways. The water that disappears from the river channel flows through the cave in a complex network of stream passages and reappears above ground at springs along the river about 1.5 miles away.
Thousands of visitors enter the cave each year, but its system of passages has yet to be fully explored. You can experience the cave firsthand by participating in different guided tours ranging from a casual walk-through to a full cave exploration with helmets and flashlights.
The cave remains a constant 48 degrees year-round, so bring along a jacket and gloves and sturdy walking shoes. On the tours, you’ll get a glimpse of a surrealistic underground world. The caverns and formations have colorful names, such as the Garden of the Gods, the Dome Room, Diamond Caverns, Carrot Sticks, Hills of Rome, and Blue Lake. The cave’s passageways wind through formations of ancient limestone.
The guides will point out the collections of stalactites, stalagmites, flow stone and other unique and delicate formations. Park personnel have been managing Mystery Cave since it was purchased by the state in 1988. Tours are operated daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day.