The first time I can remember going to Indian Cave State Park was about four years ago in October. It was a ridiculously hot Sunday and my mother had thought it would be fun for us to go to a state park for the day before coming home and carving pumpkins in the evening. I disagreed with her, believing that life would be much more enjoyable if spent in a prone position on the floor in front of a fan.
My thoughts were ignored and 30 minutes later I was shoved into the car with my mother, her boyfriend, my little brother and a picnic lunch. I spent the hour-long ride there trying to remain annoyed with the world but the beautiful scenery on the way there managed to soften even my angst-ridden, teenage heart. While there were the expected cornfields, we also drove through several hilly areas and I couldn’t help but fall a little bit in love with all the colors.
When we drove in and found a picnic area to eat at, I had assumed that this park would be like several of the other parks we had visited before; filled with trees and a small fishing lake, but not much else. It wasn’t until we went to visit the cave that I realized what a treasure this park really was.
The park is named after the large sandstone cave that dwells with-in it. Well, they call it a cave but it is really more like a giant rock wall. What is so remarkable is the fact that a number of prehistoric Native American petroglyphs are carved into it. We have no idea of when they were carved or who carved them but that just makes them all the more intriguing.
I found the entire cave fascinating but my mother was more disappointed. Over the years, some people who have come to view the petroglyphs would carve their initials into the rock, making it difficult to find the petroglyphs in some areas. I found the modern carvings just as interesting as the older ones; after all, weren’t these people doing the same thing as the Native Americans did? Leaving their mark behind to show where they’d been? To me, it was an eclectic display of the past and the present combining.
After spending some at the cave, we went back to the car and drove around the rest of the park. One of the paths we went on was used for the Halloween hayride they have every year, so it was covered in spooky decorations including a giant spider that may or may not have caused us to scream. At the
end of path, we found what has now become my favorite part of the park.
At the highest point of the park, there’s a lookout point facing east towards the Missouri River. We arrived around sunset and the way the light reflected off the water and the multicolored leaves instantly stole my breath away.
Every chance I have, I drive to the park and spend all day hiking and exploring, finding all the little surprises hidden away. Every time I go, I end the day by standing on that lookout point and taking in a view that has probably looked the same since before the settlers came through.
For those who enjoy getting away from the city for the day, this state park located in the southern Nebraska is a place that will be an unforgettable experience.