Basic Description of Caving in Utah

There are two major geographic types of caving in Utah including:

1. Alpine Caving   2.  Desert Caving

The bad news is that Utah is not considered a cave state. Where there are other states in the U.S. and some Countries in the world with many thousands of large caves, Utah has a couple of hundred small caves. Most Utah caves are short and require many hours of driving and hiking to access them. We have less of the pretty decorated caves and more of the dirty hole variety of caves.

The good news is that there are a few larger caves in Utah and a few uniquely pretty caves as well.  Here are some great positive reasons to go caving in Utah. We have some very unique caves. Utah has some of the deepest caves in the United States. Though these caves tend to be dangerously vertical and super cold and wet, they are very challenging for those who love exploration and discovery and are willing to put in the time to become expert and money for equipment and rope necessary to do the explorations safely. We are finding new caves every year in Utah. Though we don’t have the perfect rock and water combination to form large caves, we do have a variety of types of caves and some absolutely magnificent country to search for them in. We also have some very knowledgeable, skilled and friendly people to go caving with in Utah. Utah is truly a frontier for the energetic and persistent cave explorer.

There are a great variety of types of caves in Utah (see Types of Caves in Utah). This means that there can be many different kinds of caving experiences. Sometimes caves are interrelated with mines. Most of our caves are on either Forest Service lands or BLM lands, though there are a few privately owned or claimed caves. The majority of our commonly visited caves are either limestone caves formed by water, or Lava Tube Caves formed by volcanic action.

The caves in Utah vary greatly in every aspect. Alpine caves tend to be cold, wet, sharp and very vertical. Desert caves tend to be more dry , dusty and horizontal in nature. These are not hard and fast rules.  Wild caves are very dark inside and require explorers to bring dependable light with them. Don’t get caught in a cave without adequate light (see Basic Caving Equipment).

In Utah, people go caving for the fun and challenge of the exploration, not to find treasures, gems, gold and other things of value. These things are not generally found in Utah Caves. Too go where few (or none) have ever gone is what draws people to go caving in Utah.

There is very little life found in Utah caves. The caves tend to be too dry or too cold. However, there are some varieties of bats which roost in Utah caves and mines. Most of these are transient types which are here only for a while. Some heartier varieties do hibernate and even breed in Utah caves but this is rare. Bats in Utah are protected and are considered an important part of our ecology. Cave life tends to be most commonly found in the twilight zone or entrance area of the caves. Bears, cougars, rabbits, spiders, snakes, rats, bugs and occasionally fish and salamanders are found in some Utah caves. There is much microbiological life in Utah caves and  care should be taken not to ingest or inhale such life.