The Mysterious Caves and Underground Waterfalls of CNY

Howe Caverns Cave

While the Central New York Region is known as having everything that characterizes New York state in one place – live theater, fascinating museums and halls of fame, historical landmarks, farmers’ markets, country-style B&Bs, some of the best antiquing and golfing greens in the Northeast and boundless nature, it is also home to some very unique geologic wonders only found here.

Take Schoharie County’s Howe Caverns, for example. A prehistoric underground cavern six million years in the making, Howe Caverns is 156 feet below the Earth’s surface. Some newer additions to the mysterious limestone formations, the stalactites and the stalagmites include the Howe High Adventure Ropes Course, an aerial adventure; the four-tower Zip Lines, offering scenic views from up to 40 feet in the air; and the Howe Caverns Mining Company, a new 6,000-square-foot area filled with gemstones, fossils and arrowheads. Secret Caverns, also in Schoharie County, features a magnificent 100-foot underground waterfall beneath the hills of the Central New York Region.

In the rocks forming the Herkimer Diamond Mines, beautiful double-terminated quartz crystals, Herkimer Diamonds, can be found.  These phenomenal gemstones, which are indigenous to Herkimer County, are believed to be close to 500 million years old. The crystals appear to have been precision cut by man with their diamond-like geometrical shape; hence the name “Herkimer Diamonds.”

Nestled amidst 72 acres of woodlands in Montgomery County, lies the spectacular 45-foot-high Canajoharie Gorge. The gorge is a geologic wonder, home to fossils of ancient creatures encrusted in its walls of shale and granite. Canajoharie is known as the “pot that washes itself,” named by the Mohawk Indians because of the creek’s limestone bed.

Some majestic waterfalls in the Central New York Region include the 167-foot Chittenango Falls in Madison County, Chenango County’s Rexford Falls in Sherburne and Oneida County’s Oriskany Falls, which is actually a village whose name is derived from a waterfall on a nearby stream. As a main attraction of Chittenango Falls State Park, Chittenango Falls was caused by the glacial sculpting of 40 million-year-old bedrock.

The Central New York Region has a bit of everything that characterizes New York state, all in one place. What’s more, it is home to some very rare natural wonders – caves, underground waterfalls and Herkimer Diamonds – found in this area only.