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Frequently Asked Questions about Connecticut Caves and Caving

Does Connecticut have caves and if so, where?
Connecticut has only a few caves, and of these, only one is open to the public and also large enough to get more than a few people into. This is Tory's Cave in New Milford. Though this is a small cave, it is completely dark inside, can be challenging to move through with some climbing (rock scrambling). It is often wet and muddy, so typical caving gear is recommended. You can find more info at http://www.berkshirehiking.com/hikes/torys_cave.html. The official Tory's Cave site is http://www.weantinoge.org/.  This cave should be visited during the summer; after all the ice at the entrance has melted and when bats are not likely to be hibernating.

What types of caves are there?
There are a few small "solution" caves in Western Conn. These caves were formed by water slowly dissolving the marble rock over time. Tory's Cave in New Milford is the most well known example and has about 50 feet of passage. Another group of solution caves are the Bolton Caves, located in Bolton Notch, were formed when small pockets of limestone dissolved from the surrounding metamorphic rock. There are four very small caves, ranging from 8 to 30 feet of passage.

Most caves in Connecticut are what are called "rockfall" or "talus" caves, that are simply spaces between large boulders piled up when the glaciers receded. Some were formed when rocks fracture and slid away from the face of a cliff, forming a gap (the cave). Since most of these have no area of total darkness (during the day, at least), calling these voids "caves" is debatable.

Practically all caves in the northeast are located on private (non-government) land and, when caving is allowed, there are often restrictions, waivers, and the like. For details go to: http://www.caves.org/region/nro/projects_caves.html, and note that the access conditions are subject to change. Please try to get up-to-date access information. The occurrence of WNS, an affliction that is killing bats, has resulted in limited access to many caves. 


Are there larger caves close to Connecticut?
If you are looking for more substantial caves, the closest concentration of larger caves are located just west of Albany, NY. One cave, Clarksville Cave (Clarksville, NY), has been a popular cave for decades. You can find more info at NCC Clarksville Preserve. If you go down south, you will find much more in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, and surrounding states. Note that the occurrence of WNS, an affliction that is killing bats, has resulted in limited access to many caves.

Are there commercial caves in Connecticut?
No. The closest commercial caves are Howe's Caverns http://www.howecaverns.com and Secret Caverns http://www.secretcaverns.com both near Cobleskill, NY. A Visit to these caves should give you an idea of what Northeastern U.S. caves look like, at least those with large, fairly level, and well illuminated passages, plus convenient food, gift shop, and real restrooms; features that are not found in or above wild caves. Another cave attraction is Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park in the Adirondacks http://www.stonebridgeandcaves.com/ with unique above-ground features, off trail "wild" tours, and winter activities.

Although not a cave, the historic site Old Newgate Prison is an underground attraction in Connecticut. Years of weathering make parts of this historical mine-prison appear cave-like.


FAQ continued ....

Does the CCG provide guide services for youth groups such as Boy Scouts or for commercial trip operators?
The CCG policy is that the CCG doesn't lead or guide youth group trips, trips for commercial operations, or trips that pay us to lead them. We encourage potential trip leaders (with or without caving experience) to cave with us and other caving groups of the NSS to gain experience. CCG members may, independent of the CCG, assist with trips. For additional info see the NSS Youth Group page at : http://www.caves.org/youth/,

Does the CCG run classes or offer certification in caving?
We don't have regular formal classes, and certification is not common in the United States. Beginner and novice trips usually do not require prior caving or caving instruction. Some trips do utilize specific skills, such as vertical techniques and surveying. These skills, especially vertical caving skills, are taught in occasional classes. For training in cave rescue, see the NCRC.

Where can I buy a book on Connecticut caves?
There are many books on various aspects of caving, but none currently published concentrates on caves in Connecticut. Many decades ago Yale (University) published a booklet on caves, which is out of print. The CCG published a pamphlet around 1980 on Connecticut Caves, which is also out of print. There is occasional talk, and sometimes a little work, on making a current publication (interested in helping?).

Books that describe the location of some caves are: "The Connecticut Walk Book" which comes in East and West editions, published by The Connecticut Forest and Park Association. Another book is "50 Hikes in Connecticut", the 5th edition was published in 2002. Most books have an index that list some caves.


Who is the Leatherman, and why are some caves (rock shelters) in Connecticut named after him?
Please see these references:
- "Old Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend" is a fine book written by Dan W. DeLuca published October 2008.
- A recorded interview with Dan W. DeLuca aired on 12/19/2008 on Connecticut Public Radio: The Old Leatherman.

Do you do trips with media reporters interested in producing a segment on local caving?
Occasionally we do trips with reporters, see home page for contacts.

Where can I find out more about caving?
The National Speleological Society website, www.caves.org, is a great source of information on United States caving, with links to international caving and caving discussion groups.

Is there a list of suggested caving equipment?
Check out Caving Checklist (PDF)

Where can I buy caving equipment?
Look on the bottom of the home page of the NSS site, www.caves.org, for a list of businesses. The CCG has loaner gear available to beginner cavers on CCG trips.