Adventure seekers and thrill seekers, listen up! Have you ever thought about exploring the unknown depths of a cave? Caving, also known as spelunking, is an exciting and physically challenging activity that involves exploring and navigating through natural underground cave systems.
But where can you find these underground wonders? Caves can be found all over the world, from the arid desert landscapes of the southwestern United States to the humid rainforests of Central and South America. In fact, there are over 50,000 known caves in the United States alone, with many more yet to be discovered.
So why go caving? For starters, caves are home to unique and diverse ecosystems, including rare and endangered species of animals and plants that can only be found underground. Caves also have a rich history, with some dating back millions of years and serving as ancient sacred sites for indigenous cultures. And let's not forget the thrill of discovery and the adrenaline rush of navigating through tight, dark, and sometimes wet passages.
But caving isn't for the faint of heart. It requires physical strength, endurance, and a good head for problem-solving. Proper safety gear and techniques are a must, including a helmet, headlamp, and appropriate clothing and footwear. It's also important to respect and protect the cave environment by following Leave No Trace principles.
So how do you get started in caving? There are plenty of public caves that are open for exploration, and many of them offer guided tours for beginners. It's a good idea to do some research and find a reputable and experienced guide or caving group to join. You can also try joining a local caving club or group, which can provide training, gear, and support for new cavers.
So don't let your fear of the unknown hold you back. Embrace your adventurous spirit and consider giving caving a try. Who knows what hidden wonders and secrets you might discover deep within the earth?
DamageDon’t break or leave anything in caves. Caves are awesome places to explore and they deserve your respect. Don’t leave them as a mess.
Don’t leave graffiti
Not only is graffiti illegal, it is dangerous. Spraying paint in caves emits toxins into the air which are detrimental to our lungs. Aerosol cans contain methanol which is biodegradable but very bad for humans. Graffiti damages cave walls and is costly to clean and repair. The better the condition of the cave, the better the experience can be for spelunkers.
Don’t touch or harm cave animals
Leave cave critters alone. If you leave them alone, they will leave you alone as well. This is their territory, not yours. Let them be. Bats can be especially fragile, so be sure to be cautious and intentional in all your caving actions.
Caves are no place for fires.Fires leave damage such as stains on cave walls and leave a mess on the cave floor. Fires need proper ventilation which caves usually do not have. As a cave fills with smoke, oxygen is depleted and people can suffocate. Don’t build ‘em.
Leave no trace. Litter left in caves is hard to remove and can cause pollution as well as damage to cave life. If you pack it in, be sure to pack it out with you.
Many caves are privately owned or heavily regulated, therefore, obtaining permission prior to caving is extremely important. Be respectful of the cave owners and be sure to act politely so others can enjoy the cave after you.
A cave is not a bathroom. Caves lack drainage and ways to dispose of waste. Do your business prior to entering the cave or wait until you exit.
If something becomes dislodged which could potentially harm another person, be sure to yell “ROCK” and give them a heads up. It’s better safe than sorry.
Don’t smoke in caves. Smoking in caves causes them to smell bad.
General Cave Safety
- Go caving with three or more people
- Remember to bring extra lights
- Dress in proper clothing for the cave
- Dress warm
- Don’t wear loose jewelry
- Make sure your glasses are securely fastened
- Cave with those who are experienced
- Don’t jump
- Stay close to a buddy
The privileges of caving are at risk whenever caves are disrespected. These incredible places to explore are unfortunately closed due to fires, vandalism, and trash. Take care of the caves so other explorers can enjoy them too.
Here's some of our favorite caves
Civil Defense Caves
Rexburg, Idaho23.0 miles N of Rexburg, Idaho
The caves are large lava tubes. The name comes from the cold war era when they were anticipated as a safe area in the case of an attack. The entrance is pretty bouldery and does require a small...Cave 0.6-2.0 mi
North Menan Butte ('R' Mountain)
Menan, Idaho4.5 miles N of Menan, Idaho
The North Menan Butte is more commonly known to the locals and college students as R Mountain. Many kids know it better as Ou'R' Mountain. The butte is a rare and unique geological area and provides...Camp, Cave, Hike 0.1-6.2 mi
Darby Wind Cave
Driggs, Idaho7.6 miles E of Driggs, Idaho
Darby Wind Cave is a beautiful hike full of waterfalls, wildflowers, streams, and mountainous views. The sites you see will depend on the time of year you visit but it will always be beautiful and...Backpack, Cave, Hike, Rock Climb
Mountain Home, Idaho5.9 miles E of Mountain Home, Idaho
Eureka Cave is a lava tube. In other words, this was previously a tunnel for lava flows. There's a large hole to get into the cave. While climbing equipment is helpful, most relatively fit...Cave 0.1 mi
40 Horse Cave
Firth, Idaho11.9 miles E of Firth, Idaho
The naming of the cave comes from a story of two men who were caught in a bad storm. Upon hiking, these two guys were able to find the cave. One of them commented to the other, "This cave could...Cave, Hike 1.0 mi
Lewis & Clark Caverns
Whitehall, Montana10.9 miles E of Whitehall, Montana
The Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park encompasses 3,015 acres that you can explore by foot, on a bike, in a canoe or in a tent. The most famous feature of the park is the Lewis & Clark...Camp, Canoe, Cave, Hike, Mountain Bike