How to Find an Existing Underground Cavern

by Jeremiah Blanchard
The adventure begins at the entrance to the cavern.

The adventure begins at the entrance to the cavern.

Cave and cavern exploration is an exhilarating pastime, and numerous adventure seekers take part in this risky business all over the world. Famous caverns such as Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico have been thoroughly explored and photographed for their astonishing otherworldly features, while other less explored caves still draw thousands of tourists and novice cave explorers every year. To explore caverns, you'll have to find them and then get down into the dark. The best way to do this is through extensive research and utilizing local resources.

Ask local guides or outfitters that specialize in cave rappelling, spelunking and cave exploration about the whereabouts of existing underground caverns. These groups will have firsthand knowledge about existing caverns in the area. Mining companies may also have detailed information about existing caverns.

Obtain a detailed topographical and geological maps of the area from the U.S. Geological Survey. These maps will have physical features that distinguish caves and caverns from the rest of the terrain such as the location of aquifers, known caves and caverns, cave-forming rock strata, sinkholes and rock outcroppings.

Obtain parcel and mineral rights maps from the local tax assessor or a local land records department. This will show the land that is privately owned, as well as state and federally owned lands near the cavern location.

Obtain permission or a pass to explore the cavern either from the state department of natural resources or from the landowner.

Walk along the terrain, using your maps as a reference guide, to find the caverns. If you are able to hire a guide, this is the best way to find existing caves in unfamiliar territory.

Tip

  • Bring a few flashlights and backup batteries along with you if entering a cavern. Bring food and water just in case you become lost or stranded. It's also a good idea to have a reliable fire-starter to make a torch in case your batteries run out.

Warning

  • Cave exploration is very dangerous and requires great subterranean navigation skills. Only explore caverns in groups, and it's best to have an experienced guide along with you. It is very easy to get lost in a cave and never find your way out.

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