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Wild Caves

When people think of cave exploring, they think about crawling around on hands and knees and seeing stalacmites and stalagtites. Caving involves so much more however. Any form of locomotion that is humanly possible is used. The full gamut from walking upright to belly crawls moving with fingers and toes is used by wild cavers. These caves are also divided into horizontal and vertical caves. In the latter, ascending and descending ropes in and out of pits is necessary.

Pic Notes
Big Bat Big Bat Cave, Kentucky
(29 May 2005)

Big Bat is another of Kentucky's well known wild caves with such notables as Kentucky Hole and the pit near the Mushroom Entrance. It is a good cave with some interesting sections that is a hard 6 to 8 hour trip for most cavers. I recommend it but it isn't as good as nearby Thornhill.
Bowden Cave Bowden Cave, West Virginia
(02 Apr 2006)

This cave is located in Bowden, WV and is an easy cave but still has a bit of crawling and water. There are no formations but the stream has some interest. The Shower Room, a 40 ft dome, is accessed by a short wooden ladder. It is a good beginners cave or a good cave to do on the way to and from something else in the area. I did this one with the Cleveland Grotto on the way back home after a weekend of caving.
Carpenter Cave Carpenter Cave, Randolph County, West Virginia
(03 Sep 2006)

Sunday 11 of us dropped Carpenter. One of the main reasons for my trip down to OTR was to do a vertical cave. This entrance is a 75' deep crack immediately followed by a 15' drop and then another 40' rappel. Very cool. It's a very big and complex cave system with over 6 miles of surveyed passage, but we didn't have more than an hour or two to explore since it takes so long to get a group of that size down and up the rope.
Cave of the Clouds Cave of the Clouds, Noname, Colorado
(23 Mar 2002)

This is a great little cave with one very large and one medium sized chamber. Unfortunately it has been ravaged by vandals. There still are draperies, flowstone, stalactites, and stalagmites to see but many are broken off. Still it is worth a visit and it is located close to Glenwood Springs which has plenty of other caves.
Cave of the 7 Ladders Cave of the Seven Ladders, Red Rocks, Morrison, Colorado
(25 Oct 2003)

This used to be called Cave of the Seven Ladders because years ago there were 7 different ladders installed here to help tourists explore. The ladders are long gone and this is no longer considered an attraction. In fact the easier access route has a No Rock Climbing sign posted so you have to enter from the back. The cave is actually just one short tunnel. The area is more slot canyon-like than a cavish.
No Picture Cave Mountain Cave, WV
(31 Dec 2006)

Unsurprisingly located on the eponymous Cave Mountain. This is a fairly dry and somewhat dusty cave with some big passage. It was part of a New Years Eve trip with some grotto people. Sadly I forgot my camera.
Cooch-Webb Cave Cooch-Webb Cave, Hart County, Kentucky
(27 May 2006)

This is a small cave with two entrances, quarry and piano, across the street from one another. There isn't much to see inside. There is a little bit of rimstone and some minor formations. Mostly it is a single passageway. Not far from 31W and right next to the road it has convenient access at least.
ccic Crooked Creek Ice Cave aka CCIC, Rockcastle County, Kentucky
(30 July 2005)

Joe and I briefly visited this cave one night at Karst-O-Rama. It is much bigger than what we saw. We did a mini through trip (in one entrance and out another) and saw some mining artifacts along the way. There was some good walking passage, webbing and ladder assisted climbs, and some narrow canyon exploration. And we spotted a black and gold-flecked salamander. Elsewhere there are some pits to drop that I'd like to do some day.
Freeland's Cave Freeland's Cave, Meigs Township, Adams County, Ohio
(15 May 2005)

My second cave with my sister but this time as her guest. This was a Cleveland Grotto organized trip to Ohio's longest cave. Essentially it was one long, low passage with a stream running along the floor. Wet and muddy but enjoyable.
No Picture Fulford Cave, Eagle, Colorado

One of Colorado's biggest caves. It is well known and easy to find. As we found out, a whole day is needed to see it all so I have to return. I didn't take the digital camera on this trip and haven't scanned any photos. Too bad because it is a really nice cave. I took some first timers there.
Golden Fault Cave Golden Fault Cave, Golden, Colorado
(30 Aug 2003)

This is the closest cave to where I was living in Colorado and one of my most visited destinations. The cave is shattered rock filled with passages and crawlways. It isn't very big but still takes hours to explore. The main entrance can also be rappelled too which we did this trip to spice things up. Just outside Golden it is a quick destination to arrive at for a nice half or whole day trip.
Hard Baker Hard Baker Cave, Rockcastle County, Kentucky
(30 July 2005)

This cave is 442 meters long and takes about an hour to see. The entrance is a 3 m pit which is easily climbable but the slick mud hill below means a handline is indicated. There are not a tremendous amount of formations but there is gypsum, flowstone, and a dead rimstone area.
Horse Cave aka Hidden River Cave Horse Cave aka Hidden River Cave, Horse Cave, Kentucky
(11 November 2006)

Formerly known as Horse Cave in the town of the same name, Hidden River Cave has recovered from it's town dump status. As thanks for a nearby cave cleanup effort our group was invited to explore off the tourist path. I'd been there before on the walkway so it was nice to see the some of portions off the modern path. We visited Sunset Dome which is a vast 5 acre room. I somehow managed to avoid the worst of the huge silt/mud hills and falls and left fairly clean and dry.
Just or perhaps Just Right Cave Just and Just Right Caves, West Virginia
(30 Mar 2006)

These are two small caves a couple minutes walk from each other. There is not much to see inside, however, they make a great little quick trip to do in addition to something else nearby like My Cave across the street.
Unnamed aka Karen's Pit Unnamed "Karen's" Pit, near Glasgow, Kentucky
(11 November 2006)

This was a volunteer cave cleanup operation near Glasgow, KY. It is a small cave with a pit entrance that had been used as a garbage dump for years. It is actually a pretty nice little cave. It needs at least 1 or 2 more cleanups.
No Picture Keyes Cave, WV
(31 Dec 2006)

Also part of a New Years Eve trip with some grotto people. I forgot my camera here too. We seemed to be able to see most of the mazelike cave in 2 hours. We saw 4 different species of bats.
Laurel Caverns Laurel Caverns, Pennsylvania
(09 Sep 2006)

Better known as a commercial cave about an hour south of Pittsburgh, Laurel Caverns is PA's largest cave. Once a year the Pittsburgh Grotto hosts a campout and pot luck for cavers who get to enjoy the wild side of Laurel. It is a nicely decorated cave notable for it's unusually dry passages and only occasional tight spots.
No Picture Mammoth Cave, Kentucky

This cave is part of the well known Mammoth Cave National Park. It is perhaps best known for all it's tourist friendly, paved tours, but it also offers two guided "wild" tours. One is a kid friendly intro tour and the other is the full-on 6-8 hour wild tour with age and size requirements. I started making the wild tour a yearly trip for several years. It might be a ranger led tour but it is the real thing and usually leaves people exhausted.
McCoys Mill Cave McCoys-Mill-Cave, WV
(31 Dec 2006)

Happy New Year 2007! Small but right off the road and a short walk from our cabin. We arrived just before midnight with a bottle of bubbley.
Miller Cave Miller Cave, Rockcastle County, Kentucky
(30 July 2005)

Miller Cave has some interesting parts. Of what I saw, a couple semi-exposed crawls were the best part. Not too many pretties here but I took pictures of some illuminated by a candle and headlamps and they came out okay. The photos are interesting.
Mushroom Cave Mushroom Cave, Lone Star Preserve, Kentucky
(27 May 2005)

Mushroom is a very easy cave on the Lone Star Preserve right behind the pavilion. Most people just go in with only their headlamp. We did it holding our beers. It features wide passages, the remains of a mushroom farm, and some Civil War signatures in the last room. Definately worth a visit during Speleofest.
Mystic Mystic, WV
(01 Jan 2007)

Excellent cave with lots of waterworks and formations.
No Picture My Cave, West Virginia
(30 Mar 2006)

Across the street from Just and Just Right caves, this is bigger than either of those and is easy to do in conjunction with them. Like them there are no formations just mud and water.
Palmer Lake Ice Cave Palmer Lake Ice Cave, Palmer, Colorado
(27 July 2002)

This is just a small little boulder cave by Palmer Lake, Colorado. It is located in a streambed jumble of rocks and has just one little room.
No Picture The Pinnacle fault cave, Pennsylvania

This fault cave is located on the Appalachian Trail. It is a small cave that I crawled around in and took too many photos in and around. Some time I'll have to scan a couple of the photos and put them up.
Rehobeth Rehobeth, West Virginia
(26 November 2005)

This cave is located directly behind the oldest surviving church west of the Allegheny Mountains. It is close to Scott Hollow so the two of these make a good weekend trip. We only spent a couple hours inside and didn't even get wet or very muddy.
Rough Cave Rough Cave, Hart County, Kentucky
(27 May 2006)

Right near Cooch-Webb this is a small, easy cave right off the road with some modest formations in the back room. The sinkhole entrance is difficult to find since it can't be seen through the foliage and there is no trail. Even finding the 2nd culvert from the last house isn't necessarily easy.
Scott Hollow Scott Hollow, West Virginia
(25 November 2005)

Scott Hollow is a well known West Virginia cave. It is on private property but is open to experienced cavers — just ask the owner for the key to the cabin built over the entrance. This is a big cave with lots of exploration potential. This trip visited Mystic River and the giant flowstone then the Root Canal.
Sharps Cave Sharps Cave, West Virginia
(01 Apr 2006)

Sharps sees a lot of traffic. My visit was during the Cleveland Grotto's annual April Fools trip. It was one of five caves visited that weekend. We mostly stuck to the main passage areas and saw the falls which had a very heavy water flow and Clay Village. Lots of thick, slimey clay here!
Simmons-Mingo Cave Simmons-Mingo Cave, Randolph County, West Virginia
(02 Sep 2006)

At OTR we hit up nearby Simmons cave on Saturday for about 5 hours. Everybody was impressed. Not many formations but some really fun scrambling and interesting squeezes. It is reportedly "one of the major caves in the area and may well be one of the most unusual caves in the eastern United States". More than one person mentioned wanting to come back.
Thornhill Cave Thornhill Cave, Kentucky
(28 May 2005)

Thornhill is a spectacularly decorated and fairly well known cave in Kentucky. And it is big — a standard crawl to see some of its highlights is a tough 6 to 8 hours roundtrip but it is worth the pain and mud. Expect to do some wading too. Be sure to check out the pictures.
No Picture Tower Cave, Golden, Colorado
(18 Jan 2003)

Twice (18 Jan and 07 Oct 2003) at this small cave outside Golden and a short walk away from the more famous Fault Cave. It is one small room that is a fun little downclimb into because it is hard to see where to put your feet and hands. In and out would only be about 15 minutes at most. Worthwhile if you are in the area to visit the Fault Cave. Why not do two?
Wood Cutters Cave Wood Cutters Cave, Kentucky
(30 May 2005)

Wood Cutters is a short hike from the Lone Star Preserve which is the site of Speleofest. So if you are attending that function make a stop at this cave in your free time. You'll need an hour or two inside. Reportedly cavers can make it's furthest reaches in 40 minutes or so. We didn't go that far and stayed on the tight upper level.

I managed to get my sister involved in this too. When she visited me in Colorado, I took her to Golden's Fault Cave and she really enjoyed it. Now she is a member of the Cleveland Grotto and caves regularily. She has even decided to put up her own website, Adventure Chick where there are a mountain of photos from caves in Colorado (hey those are just all my !largely uncredited! photos), Indiana, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, and probably more by now. Finding myself living in Ohio again in 2005 I joined the grotto too. Look for more wild cave galleries soon because of it!

The menu of links above and below will take you to my cave photos. Beware! Under and overexposed photos are the rule.

Thanks to Vader and CaverOne for passing along their CO caving knowledge and taking me out to Cave of the Clouds. They were instrumental in getting me inside Colorado wild caves. CaverOne's CavesR4All site lists many others that I need to visit.

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Activities discussed on this site are often dangerous and ill advised.
You can do everything right and still die or be seriously injured. Such is the nature of adventurous pastimes.
The people affiliated with this site make no claims regarding the safety or veracity of information.
Caveat lector. Think for yourself and make your own decisions.

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