The hidden world of caves is vast and wondrous in West Virginia.

The southern and eastern parts of the state have vast underground caverns due to the limestone slowly dissolving over thousands of years. The product is a network of rooms and corridors adorned by various calcium formations (stalactites, stalagmites, etc). For those wanting to explore caverns, there are two options: Commercial Caverns and Wild Caves.

Commercial Caves include a few different options depending on your interests. The lighted cave tour includes a guided walk on paths through parts of the cave that are easier to access and navigate. This experience is for those who just want to see what a cave is like but do not want to get down and dirty. Most commercial caverns also offer backcountry cave tours that include crawling and getting dirty and require helmets, headlamps and coveralls.

Wild caves are those that do not have any lights, toilets or a gift shop, but do have the opportunity for exploration and wonder. The variety of technical skills and knowledge to safely and responsibly explore these caverns necessitates that individuals join a local caving organization. Luckily, there are four of these organizations in WV (see links in the sidebar).

Caving Education & SafetyNational Speleological Society - Safety & TechniquesGuide to Responsible CavingCave Conservation

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