The Mystery Cave State Park Photography Tour is well worth it – if you do it right.

The cave is huge, strikingly lit, and my guide was both helpful and informative. There are two tour routes (completely separate entrances and sections of the caves) – the Scenic Route and Geology Route. The 2-hour Photography Tour gives you access to the entire Scenic Route and is well worth the price ($40 at the time of this post).

…but I did it wrong.

I’m too curious. I wanted to see everything before I decided what to photograph. I spent most of my time touring and learning about the cave. By the time I broke out my camera, there were only 30 minutes left of my 2-hour tour!

Protip: If this is your first time visiting the Mystery Cave – spend the extra $12 and take the scenic tour first. Doing so will give you an overview of the cave system so you can better plan your shoot.


  • Bring a Grey Card. White balance in an artificially lit cave is tricky. The temperature of the cave’s lights makes it very difficult to get accurate color. Especially if you’re introducing some light of your own with a flash, flashlight, or spot.
  • Focusing is tricky in the dark. My camera’s auto-focus had a difficult time, even with the cave’s lights on. I found it easier to focus manually.
  • It’s chilly The caves are a constant 48°. Bring a pair of light gloves if you’re not comfortable at that temperature.

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