Free to access cave maps

Techniques, equipment and issues. Also visit the NSS Survey & Cartography Section.

Moderator: Moderators

Free to access cave maps

Postby Maric » May 28, 2020 10:59 am

So i am not a caver. Sorry :D

I am a Storyteller of a self made Role playing game system and I have been enamored with the concept of caves for the last ~5 days so while my enthusiasm is high, my practical knowlede is low, so writing what i know I recently had a discussion about the tropes of caving and have now set my eyes on portraying somewhat realistic caving (there are still glowing crystals to be found and conservation is less of a theme than adventure and danger; but at least there are no magical evil creatures hiding in there). I want a 2-3 days expedition with more or less medieval gear. Everything is going good so far, but i can't for the life of me find a good 2d map to use. 360slideshows are great, but i am so flooded with pop culture that if i just draw my own map i am sure i will forget things/ fall into things that perpetuate more false information. I know by now that caves aren't big flat bottomed rooms with domed ceilings plus a few stalagmites+stalagtites, and they are not gridbased either, but if i am to synthesize i need actual input.

Sooooo i would be ever so grateful for any links to any free to access cave maps. I dont even need rights to them as i am not using the maps themselves, i just want to see and know. So any ressources with diagrams about caves would be useful.

Also feel free to use this opportunity to share neat/exciting/dangerous yet realistic things you would want to see in a cave adventure^^ For example... i assume the constant threat of surprise cave bears (and/or orcs) are less of a danger than sliding into a V in the rock and getting stuck.

Thank you for your time and i hope i am not bothering anyone.
New Poster
Posts: 1
Joined: May 28, 2020 10:38 am

Re: Free to access cave maps

Postby cmkit » Jun 3, 2020 9:40 am

Hi Maric,

There is no good one stop shop for cave maps. However, a Google image search for "cave map" will probably get you all you need.

If you keep searching however, one challenge you might run into is that really good cave maps can be hard to find anywhere.
Making a good map takes a lot of work to produce, so many maps end up just being good enough.
The problem you'll find persistent in the caving world is one of conservation of resources. Putting cave maps online can attract attention to caves or parts of caves that might for a variety of reasons be sensitive to human visitation.
As a result, online publishing is limited.

One good source of maps is old NSS convention guidebooks. They always have some amount of maps.

To get a better mental picture of what a cave experience might be like, I highly recommend getting outside and exploring a cave or two yourself. Look up your local grotto, and see if you can help you get any trips setup. Note, caving has slowed down considerably the last couple months, so it may still be a few months before you find anyone willing to help out, but eventually we'll go back underground again.
Grotto locator and kml files:
Infrequent Poster
Posts: 12
Joined: Jan 27, 2010 1:22 am
Name: Carlin Kartchner
NSS #: 60593

Re: Free to access cave maps

Postby ohiocaver » Jun 4, 2020 9:11 am

There are highly detailed paper maps that cartographers have created. More recently, several people are making LIDAR maps of caves. These maps are full of computer points. Still, such a project is not a trivial undertaking - lots of hours, lots of people, lots of expensive gear. This is not a deal where USGS makes satellite maps or Exxon gives you a road map for $3.95. Should you find someone who is willing to share data from a mapped cave or part of a cave that would work in your game, be prepared to pay, and pay fairly, for the info you are getting.
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 424
Joined: Mar 5, 2009 6:34 pm
Location: Ohio
Name: curt harler
NSS #: 22735RCL
Primary Grotto Affiliation: Cleveland Grotto

Re: Free to access cave maps

Postby GroundquestMSA » Jun 4, 2020 7:11 pm

On the other hand, here are some maps of US caves:
and some more information on the mapping process and symbols used on cave maps:
User avatar
NSS Hall Of Fame Poster
Posts: 1384
Joined: May 5, 2011 1:32 pm

Return to Survey and Cartography Forum

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users