Caves and caverns are seen all over West Virginia wherever stone and water run into each other to carve hollows underneath the surface. But in the eastern and southern parts of West Virginia, numerous uncharted caverns have brought in caving enthusiasts from all over the globe.
Caving is an exciting yet unforgiving type of sport in West Virginia. Beyond the safety limitation of a developed cavern, non-functioning gear, unplanned destinations, or slipping on stone can make a thrilling adventure into a search-and-rescue horror. However, numerous commercial caves have been made to allow public exploration. Several caving organizations are present to aid in exploration via safe and responsible methods.
Here are some of the most known places for caving West Virginia:
This a big cave situated 50 miles south of Pittsburgh. A majority of its passage ceilings in its three-mile trail are between 10 and 20 feet in height (although some can go as high as 50 feet) with a width average of 13 feet. This alone makes it the biggest cave in Pennsylvania. The cave sits under a 400-acre geological reserve. Unspoiled water constantly makes its entry in the cave.
As part of its conservation efforts, Laurel Caverns is the only developed cave worldwide with the biggest preserved passages and rooms. Due to the difference in elevation from its upper and lower passages (at 450 feet), two caving activities had to be made. Both activities cover varying aspects of the cave, although both have main tour passages including the bat room and ballroom.
The Seneca Caverns consists of a long gorge stretching 20 miles. It’s been carved by the South Branch Potomac River from the eastern part of West Virginia. The location is remote and some areas are only accessible by boat or foot.
It also features the “Room of a Million Stalactites,” which is said to have the second highest cavern ceiling in the Eastern United States. The ceiling towers 274 feet above the cave floor. The biggest 6-ton ribbon stalactite in the world constantly receives air currents flowing into the cavern.
Situated in south-east West Virginia, the Organ Cave is filled with history and science. It has more than 40 miles of charted passageways with over 200 unmapped leads. These leads are said to go on for miles. Back in 2008, more than 70 miles of passageways were discovered. Currently, the cave is the second longest-running natural public attraction in eastern United States. The Organ Cave can be found West Virginia’s Greenbrier County.
The Lost World Caverns provides the longest running abseil in the world with an entrance drop of 320 feet. Endless rainforest can be observed over the edges with walls pushing out into a gigantic chamber. Down below, an underground river exits the cave. It’ll take around 5 hours of caving to follow the river out via an underground canyon. A bit of climbing and swimming is needed.
The Lost World Caverns goes down to a maze of limestone caves. Private or self-guiding tours can lead to a 235 feet descent from the cave’s entrance. Stalagmites, flowstones, curtains, and other natural carvings can be seen along the way.