A world beneath your feet
Caves are a unique natural resource found in areas where there is abundant limestone and some form of elevation change. Passages can range from small, body-sized tubes, to huge, arena-sized underground rooms.
In Virginia, caves are found in areas of karst topography mostly in counties west of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Karst topography is formed when sedimentary rock (mostly limestone) undergoes chemical erosion due to acidity in rainwater. This erosion forms underground caves.
Caves are an exact median of the temperature range above ground. So in Virginia, they stay at 55° degrees Fahrenheit all year round.
Cave Critters (they're really not that bad)
Snakes, spiders, and other “creepy crawlies” are usually not found in caves because of the low temperatures.
Bears don’t like Virginia caves because they are usually damp, windy places.
Bats live in our caves, but prefer to keep to themselves. The most common species of bats in Virginia caves are the Little Brown, Big Brown, Eastern Pipistrelle, Big-Eared, and even some endangered Indiana Bats.
What to expect on a cave trip
Caving is an inherently dangerous activity that demands a good understanding of your physical ability, and adherence to proper safety procedures and techniques.
RASS caving trips are led by an experienced guide who understands how to safely navigate passageways, and will not over-exert any of the trip participants.
Novice (beginner) trips typically last about four hours, and you can expect to do short crawls, rock scrambles, and other fun maneuvers.
RASS is a non-profit organization, so you will never be charged to go caving!
What to wear
A UIAA-Certified Helmet (the club has helmets to borrow)
Long sleeves and pants that you do not mind getting muddy! (Layers are best and try to avoid cotton)
Boots with decent treads
Gloves (to protect your hands, but more importantly to protect the cave walls and formations)
What to bring
A small backpack
At least three sources of light (ensure that at least one is a bright headlamp)
Ready-to-eat food (granola bars, trail mix, etc.)
A durable camera
Trash bag to store your muddy clothes after you get back to the car!