Access to many caves can become impossible in the winter months as snow and ice overtake many entrances and make caves too dangerous to explore. However, the slippery conditions in some places shouldn’t discourage you from exploring the natural beauty that caving provides.
At Inner Mountain Outfitters, we realize that not everyone is a professional caver and that some people just can’t help but try and scratch the itch for underground adventures. Caving is about so much more than conquering a challenge. In our last post, we provided cavers with a number of caving attractions that rank as some of the hardest in the world. In today’s post, we’d like to provide you with some options that everyone can enjoy, even in the heart of winter. Some of these may require some caving gear, but they’re mostly scenic adventures that anyone could enjoy.
4 Cave Systems Available to Cavers in Winter
Luray Caverns, Virginia — This cave system is just a little west of Luray, Virginia. Known for its easy access and stunning views, Luray Caverns makes a great addition to any winter vacation, as it’s open throughout the year and has many natural and historical features to explore. Touting itself as a member of the “Geology Hall of Fame,” tours of Luray Caverns will take you through cathedral-sized caverns with rock and stalactite features that would leave anyone in wonder.
For aspiring cavers, whether it be the young ones in your group or an entire family, there are chances to get a feel for what using climbing ropes and harnesses is like at their rope adventure park.
Black Hills Caverns, South Dakota
Located on the outskirts of Rapid City, the Black Hills Caverns in South Dakota provide scenic adventures for those interested in going a little deeper into caving without getting too technical. One of many natural wonders in the area, it makes a great addition to those looking to get their fill of nature and history. Made up of limestone that was formed almost 340 million years ago by an ancient sea, the cave itself has formed over the last 60 million years and is still evolving today.
This adventure doesn’t require caving gear. However, it can be a bit more of a challenge — with a hike lasting three-fourths of a mile into the caves that has minimal man-made assistance.
Crystal Ice Cave, Iceland
This winter caving excursion amps up the intensity a bit and the need for caving gear. This is still a beginner level adventure in terms of serious caving, but unlike the first two destinations on our list, the Crystal Ice Cave requires a high level of physical conditioning, an ability to fit through tight spaces, that you be at least 12 years old, and comfortability with both heights and small spaces.
Not only will this guided adventure provide you with a legitimate example of what caving is like at a level higher than hiking, but there are plenty of easier, scenic adventures in the surrounding area. The Crystal Ice Cave itself, however, will require caving helmets and chinstraps, winter clothing or caving suits with water resistance, quality caving or hiking boots, headlamps, and kneepads.
Get Started Caving Today!
While safe winter caving adventures are harder to find, those that are available are a great way to introduce yourself or your loved ones to the adventure. If you do decide to take on caving, be sure to use Inner Mountain Outfitters for all your caving gear. Whether you’re a beginner or an advanced caver, we have any caving equipment you might need, from headlamps and clothing to harnesses and carabiners. We’re here when you need us!