FAQ and Resources
What types of caves are in Connecticut?
There are a few small “solution” caves in Western Connecticut. 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. It is currently closed to visitation. Another group of solution caves are the Bolton Caves. Located in Bolton Notch, they 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 in length.
Most caves in Connecticut are what are called “rockfall” or “talus” caves. These are simply spaces between large boulders that had piled up when the glaciers receded. Some were formed when rocks fractured 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), whether it is appropriate to call these voids “caves” is debatable.
Practically all caves in the Northeast are located on private (non-government) land. When caving is allowed, there are often restrictions, such as waivers and the like. The emergence of white-nose syndrome (WNS), an affliction that is killing bats, has resulted in limited access to many caves.
Does Connecticut have caves that are open to the public?
Connecticut has only a few caves, and only the caves in Bolton Notch are open to the public. But these are small (extremely small compared to well-known caves in other states).
When is caving season in the Northeastern USA?
Most of the caves that we visit regularly in the Northeastern USA are used by bats for winter hibernation. We do not want to disturb the bats during this vulnerable period so the CCG encourages all to obey cave closures.
-The Northeastern Cave Conservancy closes most of this caves from Oct. 1 until May 1. More information can be found at: http://www.necaveconservancy.org/preserves/
-The National Speleological Society closes the caves on James Gage Karst Preserve, Mcfail’s Cave Nature Preserve, and Schoharie Caverns Nature Preserve from Oct. 1 until May 1. More information can be found at: https://caves.org/preserves/index.shtml
Are there larger caves close to Connecticut?
If you are looking for more substantial caves, the closest concentration of larger caves is located just west of Albany, NY. One cave, Clarksville Cave (Clarksville, NY), has been a popular cave for decades. You can find more information about this cave at NCC Clarksville Preserve. If you go down south, you will find many more caves in Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia and surrounding states. Note: The emergence of WNS has limited access to many caves in these states, as well).
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 located 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. They also have convenient food availability, gift shops, and real restrooms—features that are not found in or near wild caves. Another cave-related attraction is in NY is Natural Stone Bridge & Caves Park (http://www.stonebridgeandcaves.com/). Located in in the Adirondacks, it offers 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 have made parts of this historical mine-prison appear cave-like.
Does the CCG provide guide services for youth groups such as Boy Scouts or for commercial trip operators?
It is the policy of the CCG not to lead or guide youth-group trips, trips for commercial operations, or trips for a fee. The grotto encourages potential future 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 information, see the NSS Youth Group page at http://www.caves.org/youth/.
Does the CCG run classes or offer certification in caving?
The CCG does not offer formal caving classes. Caving certification is not common in the United States. Beginner and novice trips usually do not require prior caving or caving instruction. More advanced trips do require a familiarity with specific skills, such as vertical techniques or surveying. These skills, especially vertical caving skills, are taught during periodic workshops. For training in cave rescue, see the National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC) website.
Where can I buy a book on Connecticut caves?
There are many books on various aspects of caving, but no currently available books are devoted solely to caves in Connecticut. Many decades ago, the Yale Speleological Society (no long in existence) published a booklet on local caves, but this is now out of print. Around 1980, the CCG published a pamphlet on Connecticut Caves. But this is also now out of print. There is occasional talk, and sometimes a little work, on making a current publication (interested in helping?).
Who is the Leatherman, and why are some caves (rock shelters) in Connecticut named after him?
Please refer to the book, Old Leather Man: Historical Accounts of a Connecticut and New York Legend (2008) by Dan W. DeLuca, Wesleyan University Press. A review of this title can be found in the March 2014 issue of The Underground Movement (Underground Movement March 2014 (PDF))
Does the CCG do trips with media reporters interested in producing a segment on local caving?
Occasionally we do trips with reporters, see home page for contacts. See the home page for contact information.
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?
The NSS has a page of sponsors. The CCG has loaner gear available to beginner cavers on CCG trips.