Want to find a cave? Start here!

Caves and caving, beginning caving, joining the NSS, etc.

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Want to find a cave? Start here!

Postby bigalpha » Mar 5, 2007 11:23 pm

So you want to find a cave and go caving?

Well, you can't just show up at any cave at any time. In order to find and gain access to most caves, a good idea is to befriend local cavers. The best way to do that is to join your local grotto. My local what?

Your local grotto. A grotto is simply a group of cavers (or a room in a cave. But, that doesn't make much sense for our needs, does it?).

So, how do I find my local grotto? Start HERE. This is the list of grottos maintained by the NSS (National Speleological Society).

Now, you may be more of a solitary caver. That's fine, but you should still consider getting a little involved in your local caving scene. Build some trust among local cavers, and they'll likely show you the goods. Also think about landowner relations. Many cavers have formed relationships that range from full-blown cave access, to limited access, to extremely limited access. Sometimes there is no access at all. It is, after all, the unwritten rule of US cavers (and the written rule of the NSS) not to release cave locations to just anyone, so asking here on the forum will get you nowhere. Well, actually, it'll get you responses like "contact your local grotto". We don't want all those nice caves messed up from vandals and irresponsible cavers!

Another good source of information is from printed materials. If you are an NSS member, you can receive a discount at the NSS BOOKSTORE. If you aren't sure how to become a member, or why you should, check out THIS link. Becoming an NSS member is not mandatory for caving in the USA, but you do get some perks like access to caves, access to a wide range of information and publications, and the ability to attend caving conventions, rescue training, and other events.

------- [IN SUMMARY, OR FOR THOSE WHO ENJOY Q AND A] ----------

Q: Why are cave locations not posted on the internet?

A: Usually, you won't find much public information on cave locations because of legal liability and conservation issues. Many caves are privately owned, and can be delicate and/or potentially dangerous. We work hard to maintain landowner relations, and don't want anybody to accidentally or deliberately screw it up by damaging themselves or the cave. Some caves have limited access policies, and sometimes grotto members themselves are the ones who manage access. Other caves are closed completely, and entering without permission could prevent them from ever being reopened.


Q: Well, how do I find out about cave locations?

A: There are plenty of ways to find out about caves without going through a grotto or other cavers, but they usually involve a tremendous amount of work. Cavers have been doing this work for 75 years or so. The information they collect is preserved and passed down to other cavers, mostly through local grottos. Joining a grotto is not the only way to find caves, but it is usually an easier way. Get involved with a grotto and soon you may have access to more caves than you know what to do with. Talk to the right people and you could be going caving this weekend.

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But please, feel free to post here and ask any question that you need to. The group that hangs out here is extremely knowledgeable and can answer any caving (and almost any other question) that you may have.

Above all, cave safely and responsibly.

Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.
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bigalpha
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