If you’ve never lived in Western Kentucky or Southern Illinois, there’s a decent chance you’ve never heard heard of Cave-In-Rock. If you’ve seen Davy Crockett and the River Pirates or How the West Was Won, you’ve seen it without realizing it. Cave-In-Rock (a land formation that is exactly as it sounds) was a home for years to notorious bandits who preyed upon the barge and river traffic, including Samuel Mason and the James-Younger Gang, which included the infamous Jesse James.
Both sets of my grandparents live in Western Kentucky, so I’ve been to Cave-In-Rock more times than I can count, but not at all in recent years (living different time zones will do that to you). My whole family happened to be at my grandmother’s for a long weekend recently, though, and my brother’s fiancé had never been, so we decided to take the ferry, enjoy a picnic, and hike down to Cave-In-Rock.
Unlike Mammoth Cave or Carlsbad Caverns, there are no tours and there’s no exploring the cave for hours, but it’s easy to hike down to, family friendly, and if you’re in the area, a nice, fun way to spend the afternoon.