A Critical Issue

While conservation is important anywhere, in caves several issues compound the issues.

  • Caves are fragile. On the surface, after millenia of rain, wind, frost action, what remains is reasonably durable. The damage we do there is usually weathered away in a season, a decade, or lifetime. Not so in caves.
    • Formations are delicate. The slightest touch can destroy them forever.
    • Except in rare circumstances, caves are not naturally cleaned out by wind and water. Every piece of trash, every footprint, every smudge of mud, will remain for future generations to see.
  • While unfortunate, damage to living creatures on the surface, both plants and animals, is usually not catastrophic when done on a small scale. The ecosystem is large and able to recover. Caves, on the other hand, host micro-ecosystems. The smallest disruption--the death of a few insects, the spilling of a few crumbs--can result in a catastrophic imbalance that results in a collapse of the ecosystem.

Click here to learn more about Cave Conservation.
View NSS Guide to Responsible Caving (pdf)
View NSS Fragile Underground brochure (pdf)


White Nose Syndrome

White Nose Syndrome (WNS) is a fungal disease in bats. It has been slowly advancing westward across North America since it was first identified in 2006. Since that time rules have been in place to help ensure cavers do not contribute to its advancement. Click here for the latest WNS information and decontamination rules.


Bats rely on their stored fat to surive winter hibernation. When they are awakened they use up valuable energy which they cannot replenish during the cold seasons. Therefore it is important to avoid disturbing hibernating bats. Cavers who encounter bats during the cold winter months, should exit immediately, carefully, and quietly.

Additionally, the following is a list of caves that are officially closed during bat hibernation season from October 15 to May 1.

  • Bat Cave
  • Bobcat Cave
  • Chalk Cave
  • Giant Arch Cave
  • Gypsum Cave
  • Jawdropper Cave
  • Little Arch Cave
  • Kids Cave
  • Pot O' Gold Cave
  • Owl Cave
  • The One That Goes Cave
  • Twin Cave
  • Wedge Butte East and West Caves
  • Will's Cave

Click here for additional details.