Fifteen stories below a large mansion atop a rural green hill lie the stalactites and stalagmites of Howe Caverns. It was discovered when land owner Howe was annoyed that his cows were always gathering congregating in same sunny spot (not in the shade like they were supposed to), he went to the crowded patch and felt a cool breeze coming from the Earth.
Of course, like any sensible man, he started digging and put Cobleskill, NY on the map as a tourist destination ever since–although technically it should be called Howe's Cow's Caverns. A guided tour starts every half hour and our guide, Sarah, (who has been doing this for eight years and still has yet to learn how to be cordial and friendly or enjoy a single minute of it) took us down the elevator. She delivered (in the most unpleasant monotone that occasionally reached to a scream) lines like
“And here lies the formation called ' big turtle'. It doesn't have a head, but if you can imagine a head, you can imagine it looks like a big turtle.”
Our fellow travelers also added their own “spice” to the journey, making fart noises if it got too quiet; dragging their whaling children along; and one forty year old dude kept touching everything he could in an act of defiance (you're told not to touch anything because it damages the formations). No one tells him what to do!
The spot is ideal for picture taking so bring a camera, or you can opt to pose for one in the “gold room” where a poor teenage girl has to wait all day for you to come by and snap you photo. At least Sarah got to see daylight every half an hour.
The neatest and most Disney-like part of the tour is a short boat ride on the calm river. The tour lasts ninety minutes and really is neat and worth a trip, although you might get freaked if the idea of being so far underground spooks you.
Nearby are the rival Secret Caverns, who advertise with big psychedelic billboards that reference Rush and Pink Floyd, so of course our original plan was to go there. They were totally closed! But I'm glad we went to Howe's. Despite the efforts of the public and the staff, it's a truly magnificent site.