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Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves

52 Week Adventure Challenge

08.14.17

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Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves

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  • Light beams through a gap in the Plato's Cave lava tunnel.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Bronson Caves, Griffith Park.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Rock art at Cascadia Cave in the Willamette Valley.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • With three caves to explore at the Redmond Caves, you're sure to find something that piques your interest.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Headlamp exploration in Ape Caves.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Exploring the Ape Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Skylight cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • The lights cast interesting shadows and colors in the rooms of Lehman Caves.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Boyd Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Lush flora en route to the caves in Maquoketa Caves State Park.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Headlamps, flashlights, or rented lanterns are a must in Lava River Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • They're called ice nubbins. Water drips constantly from the ceiling of Arnold Ice Cave, freezes when it hits the ground, and builds ice stalagmites.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Illuminated stalactites in Guler Ice Caves.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Sea Lion Caves as viewed from the caged internal viewing platform and interpretive area.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • The iconic view from Hidden Forest Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Scout Cave, Red Cliffs Desert Reserve.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • View of Mount Jefferson from inside Boca Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • The Big Room in Middle Cave, Timpanogos Cave National Monument.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mammoth Cave is filled with beautiful limestone formations.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • The old historic entrance into Mammoth Cave.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Box stalagmites in Wind Cave National Park.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mount Hood, Sandy Glacier Caves: Grylloblattid (Grylloblatta) also commonly called "ice crawlers."- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mount Hood's Sandy Glacier Caves in view.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • View of Snow Dragon's main entrance.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mount Hood, Sandy Glacier Caves: inside Snow Dragon. - Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mount Hood, Sandy Glacier Caves: main entry to Snow Dragon.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
  • Mount Hood, Sandy Glacier Caves: inside Snow Dragon.- Plumb the Depths With These Can't-Miss Caves
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Contributor

North America is home to an amazing array of caves—limestone caverns that resound with echoes, lava tubes that bore into the earth like subways, and human-made tunnels that penetrate to once-rich seams of ore. For this week’s installment of the #52WeekAdventureChallenge, we dig into one of the more unique environments for outdoor recreation, caves.

Interestingly, caves were some of the first outdoor environments to be leveraged for tourism. Indeed, Cooper’s Cave in upstate New York may have been the first. When James Fenimore Cooper wrote The Last of the Mohicans, he placed many of the cave scenes in the cave that now bears his name. Sometime after its publication in 1826, stairs were built that allowed visitors to explore its depths until 1962. While the wilds of the West were still being explored, the “show cave” became a roadside attraction in the east in places like Virginia, where there are more than 4,400 documented caves. These places were bought by railroad companies and developed as luxury destinations in a country that was quickly laying tracks from coast to coast. For years, caves have been appreciated for their stark contrasts—the quiet, the cold, and the amazing formations that accumulate like grains of sand under the elements and the slow trudge of time.

But how do they get there? There are several different kinds of caves: solution caves, lava caves, sea caves, glacier caves, and ice caves. Solution caves create some of the most dramatic cave systems that we see in the United States. By the steady action of water, rock, and gravity, large caverns and caves are bored out of the bedrock. As groundwater slowly moves, it dissolves the rock into solution and steadily displaces it, forming the largest cave systems in the world. Mammoth Caves is a solution cave. Lava caves, like those found all over central Oregon, develop when the surface of a lava flow cools and hardens, while the lava under this hard crust remains fluid and eventually drains, leaving behind a tube. Sea caves, like solution caves, are drilled by the action of water, driven by the tides and hastened by the sand that the waves carry. Glacier caves are formed by meltwater that bores long tubes into the ice of a glacier. Lastly, the unofficially named ice caves are solution and lava caves that contain ice formations as a result of their near-freezing temperatures.

For the outdoor recreationalist, caves challenge the sense of scale. They are not the rugged mountain or wide-open plain, but an intimate subterranean place, quiet and still and  close. Often a descent into caves is a descent into soul—like all outdoor adventures, a new and unusual way to explore the different facets of being.

Ask and you shall receive. 

Lava Caves

Solution Caves

Glacier and Ice Caves

Sea Caves

Other Caves

#52AdventureChallenge

We believe good things come from people spending time outside. We strive to provide inspiration and supporting information on incredible adventures to make it easy for you to get outdoors and explore new places. We understand that life is busy, but we strongly encourage you to make time for outdoor recreation on a weekly, if not daily, basis. To keep you inspired all year, we've put together a list of 52 geologic features and adventure themes. Check them out and join us in our #52AdventureChallenge!

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