25 Years Strong


Our Mission

Lost River Cave’s mission is to educate and enrich lives through connections with nature.


Guiding Principles


Lost River Cave is managed by the Friends of the Lost River, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. This group of committed individuals works to provide fiscal sustainability for the conservation and protection of Lost River Cave’s natural and cultural resources while providing outdoor experiences and education.

The principles guiding their work include:

  1. Offer children, parents and adults interesting personal experiences and education that embraces Aldo Leopold’s definition of a community to “include soils, waters, plants and animals.”
  2. Encourage an appreciation of the value of unstructured time in the outdoors at Lost River Cave and beyond.
  3. Maintain the trust of members, donors and the community through ethical stewardship of the cave and land.
Field Trip Snake

What is Lost River Cave today?

Lost River Cave is an urban 70-acre park that offers activities and events that utilize its natural and man-made features. Natural features include – the cave, a wooded valley with trails, river and other karst features, such as blue holes and sinking streams and a 20-acre restored prairie. Man-made features include a seasonal butterfly habitat, a constructed wetland, the paved greenway trail, the visitor center and gift shop, classroom/meeting space in the River Birch Room, event venues including the Historic Cavern Nite Club, and equipment storage barns and administrative offices.

A wide-variety of skill sets are needed to achieve the goals of the organization. Staff members include professional naturalists who are certified to:

  • train interpretive guides,
  • develop nature-based educational programs,
  • and provide educational development opportunities for teachers.

Support for visitation generated by tourism and educational programming is provided by:

  • maintenance staff and groundskeepers,
  • marketing personnel responsible for brand management and in-house publications,
  • business administrator and event rentals coordinator,
  • tour guides and retail gift shop staff,
  • and a development coordinator who manages memberships and community relations.

A volunteer board of directors and the executive director provide support for the Mission Statement by establishing goals and engaging the community to become involved with the organization.

The board and staff share a commitment to these goals:

  • Engage children, teenagers and adults in nature-based programs and outdoor activities
  • Collaborate with volunteers, other non-profits, government entities, WKU and corporations
  • Build on existing resources and leverage existing expertise to fill the gap in nature-based learning opportunities in the region
  • Create STEM-based (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activities that encourage and enable educators to integrate our programs into their curriculum.

What will Lost River Cave be tomorrow?

In 2015, the board and staff adopted a five-year Strategic Plan that will guide the organization and ensure sustainability and effective allocation of the resources that serve our mission. Implementation of the 2015 Strategic Plan magnifies the original mission – drawing attention to the importance of all its natural and cultural resources and expanding its potential for growth.

With the 2015 Strategic Plan, Lost River Cave will expand the usefulness of its diverse and vibrant ecosystems and its role in the region.   We believe that understanding the natural world begins with experiencing it. Uniquely situated within the City of Bowling Green, the cave, valley, woodlands, prairie and wetlands offer tremendous potential as an urban sanctuary for visitors who hike the trails and most especially for those creatures that have made this their home.

The 2015 Strategic Plan outlines a pathway for becoming a more visible resource to the community. By investing in donor and membership growth we are taking steps to:

  • Provide for new program space and administrative offices at the Cave Mill Road property
  • Develop additional professional staff and volunteers to increase awareness of and access to nature-based education opportunities at the Park
  • Improve conservation measures throughout the park with additional staff training, the acquisition of wildlife proof trash bins, the removal of invasive plants, additional interpretive signage and other methods
  • Refurbish existing icons that represent the cultural history of the site: the water wheel, the historic arch and the bridge and tourist cabin.

    Goals, Strategies and Actions

    The goals, strategies and actions outlined in the 2015 Strategic Plan are the important steps toward realizing the sustainability of Lost River Cave. Implementing the 2015 Strategic Plan will lead the community to a greater awareness of the importance of time spent in the outdoors and support the Mission and Guiding Principles of the organization.