Denver, Colorado is a land of natural wonders and stunning scenery, with its towering peaks, crystal clear lakes, and rushing rivers. But beneath the surface lies another world of adventure waiting to be discovered – a world of caves. Denver is home to a diverse range of caves, each with its own unique beauty and mysteries waiting to be explored.
In this article, we will take a closer look at 15 of the most unexplored caves in Denver, each offering a unique and unforgettable caving experience. From the breathtaking formations of Cave of the Winds in Manitou Springs to the fascinating geological wonders of Wind Cave in Pueblo, these hidden gems are waiting to be discovered by those willing to venture deep into the earth.
But exploring caves comes with its own set of risks and challenges, and safety should always be the top priority. Therefore, we will also be discussing some essential safety tips for caving, as well as the necessary equipment and techniques required for a successful caving trip.
So whether you are an experienced caver or a curious novice, join us on this journey as we delve into the fascinating world of caving and discover the hidden wonders of Denver’s underground.
Denver Caving Safety Tips
Exploring caves can be an exciting and adventurous activity, but it’s important to take safety seriously. Caves can be dangerous places if you’re not careful, so it’s important to follow some basic safety guidelines.
- Research the cave beforehand
Before exploring a cave, it’s important to do your research. Find out what kind of cave it is, what the terrain is like, and if there are any safety hazards to be aware of. You should also find out if there are any permits or special permission needed to explore the cave.
- Never explore alone
It’s always best to explore caves with at least one other person. If something goes wrong, you’ll have someone there to help you. Make sure that your companion is someone who you trust and who is experienced in caving.
- Bring appropriate gear
As mentioned earlier, appropriate gear is crucial for ensuring a safe and enjoyable cave exploration. Make sure that you bring a helmet, headlamp, gloves, sturdy footwear, and appropriate clothing. If you’re going to be exploring for an extended period of time, you should also bring food, water, and other supplies.
- Stay on the designated trail
Most caves have designated paths for visitors to follow. Make sure that you stay on these paths and don’t wander off. The paths are designed to keep you safe and to protect the cave’s delicate ecosystem.
- Follow all posted signs and warnings
Pay attention to any signs or warnings that are posted in and around the cave. These signs are there to keep you safe and to protect the cave’s ecosystem. If you’re unsure about anything, ask a park ranger or tour guide for clarification.
- Be aware of your surroundings
Always be aware of your surroundings when exploring a cave. Watch your footing and be careful not to touch anything that could be fragile or dangerous. Stay alert for any potential hazards, such as loose rocks or slippery surfaces.
- Respect the environment
Caves are fragile ecosystems that are easily damaged. Make sure that you respect the cave’s environment and do not touch, disturb, or remove any natural features. Avoid littering and be mindful of your impact on the cave’s ecosystem.
15 Top Unexplored Caves In Denver
Now onto the most exciting section of the guide, where we’ll take a look at the 15 top unexplored caves in Denver.
1. Cave of the Winds – Manitou Springs
Located in Manitou Springs, just outside of Colorado Springs, Cave of the Winds is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. This cave system has been attracting visitors since the late 1800s and offers a unique caving experience with a variety of tours to choose from.
One of the most popular tours is the Discovery Tour, which takes visitors through the cave’s natural passageways and includes information about the cave’s geology and history. The Lantern Tour is another popular option, allowing visitors to explore the cave by candlelight.
For the more adventurous cavers, Cave of the Winds offers the Caving 101 tour, which teaches the basics of cave exploration and includes crawling, climbing, and rappelling through the cave. This tour is not for the faint of heart and requires a moderate level of physical fitness.
Cave of the Winds also offers an attraction called the Wind Walker Challenge Course, which is a high ropes course set above the cave’s entrance. This course includes various obstacles and challenges, such as a tightrope walk and a zipline, and offers a unique way to experience the cave system from above.
2. Bear Cave – Evergreen
Bear Cave is a small but unique cave system located in Evergreen, just outside of Denver. The cave system is a popular destination for hikers and nature enthusiasts, and it offers a fun caving experience for those looking to explore its rocky passageways.
One of the unique features of Bear Cave is its entrance, which is located at the base of a small waterfall. Visitors must climb up a steep hill and cross a narrow wooden bridge to reach the cave entrance, which adds to the excitement and adventure of exploring this cave.
The cave itself is relatively small, with narrow passageways and low ceilings, but it offers an intimate caving experience for those who are up for the challenge. Visitors will need to navigate through tight spaces and climb over rocks to explore the cave fully.
It is important to note that Bear Cave is not a guided tour, and visitors must explore the cave system on their own. It is recommended that visitors wear sturdy shoes with good traction and bring a flashlight or headlamp, as the cave can be dark and slippery.
3. Glenwood Caverns – Glenwood Springs
Located in the beautiful town of Glenwood Springs, the Glenwood Caverns is a stunning cave system that offers a unique and educational experience for visitors. The cave system is located on top of Iron Mountain, and visitors can take a scenic gondola ride to reach the entrance of the caves.
One of the unique features of the Glenwood Caverns is the Fairy Caves, which were discovered in the late 1800s. The Fairy Caves feature stunning stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations, which are illuminated by colorful lights to enhance the beauty of the caves.
Visitors can also take guided tours of the King’s Row, a series of stunning cave rooms featuring massive stalactites and stalagmites. The tour provides visitors with an educational experience about the formation of caves and the unique features of the Glenwood Caverns.
Aside from the cave system, the Glenwood Caverns also features a variety of thrilling rides and attractions, including the Cliffhanger Roller Coaster, the Giant Canyon Swing, and the Haunted Mine Drop. These rides provide visitors with an adrenaline-fueled experience and stunning views of the surrounding area.
It is important to note that the Glenwood Caverns is a popular destination, and visitors should book their tickets in advance to avoid long lines and wait times. Additionally, visitors should wear comfortable and sturdy shoes, as there is a fair amount of walking and climbing involved in the tour.
4. Sand Cave – South Park
Sand Cave, located in South Park, is a unique and stunning cave system that offers visitors a chance to explore its beautiful and fascinating features. The cave is also known as the “Soda Pop Cave” due to the presence of mineral deposits that give the cave walls a fizzy appearance.
The Sand Cave was formed over millions of years as water eroded the sandstone and created intricate passageways and chambers. Visitors can explore the cave system by walking through its narrow passages and admiring the stunning rock formations, including stalactites and stalagmites.
One of the unique features of Sand Cave is its bright red walls, which are caused by the iron oxide present in the sandstone. Visitors can also see soda straws, a delicate formation that hangs from the ceiling and looks like a thin, hollow tube.
Exploring Sand Cave requires some level of physical fitness and endurance, as visitors must crawl and climb through tight spaces and rocky terrain. Visitors should also bring their own flashlights as the cave is not illuminated.
It is important to note that Sand Cave is located on private property and visitors need to obtain permission from the landowner to access the cave. Visitors should also respect the environment and leave the cave as they found it to preserve its natural beauty for future generations.
5. Raspberry Cave – Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Raspberry Cave is located in the Golden Gate Canyon State Park, about 30 miles west of Denver. The cave is a hidden gem in the park, and it is only accessible to visitors who are willing to hike the challenging 2.5-mile trail to the cave.
The trail to Raspberry Cave is steep and rugged, and visitors are advised to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring plenty of water. The hike to the cave takes about two hours, and visitors will be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
The cave itself is a small and intimate cave system that features narrow passageways, tight squeezes, and stunning rock formations. One of the most unique features of Raspberry Cave is the abundance of raspberry-colored calcite crystals that can be found throughout the cave. These crystals give the cave its name and create a stunning visual display that is unlike anything else in the park.
Visitors who are interested in exploring Raspberry Cave should be prepared for a challenging adventure. The cave requires visitors to crawl, climb, and navigate through tight spaces and rocky terrain. Visitors should also bring their own flashlights and helmets as the cave is not illuminated.
It is important to note that Raspberry Cave is a fragile and sensitive environment, and visitors should take care not to damage the delicate formations or disturb the cave’s ecosystem. Visitors are advised to follow all posted regulations and to leave the cave as they found it to preserve its natural beauty for future generations.
6. Crater Cave – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Crater Cave is located in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in western Colorado. The cave is unique in that it was formed by volcanic activity rather than erosion like most caves. Visitors can access the cave via a 1-mile trail that descends over 1,000 feet to the cave’s entrance.
The trail to Crater Cave is challenging and steep, and visitors are advised to wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring plenty of water. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding canyon and the Gunnison River. Once visitors reach the cave’s entrance, they must descend a ladder to access the cave’s interior.
The interior of Crater Cave is a series of narrow passageways and chambers that are filled with unique rock formations and features. The cave’s most prominent feature is a large crater-like chamber that is over 100 feet deep. Visitors can explore the chamber and see the remnants of lava that once filled the cave.
Crater Cave is a fragile and sensitive environment, and visitors are asked to take great care not to damage the cave’s delicate formations or ecosystem. Visitors should also bring their own flashlights and helmets as the cave is not illuminated.
The National Park Service offers guided tours of Crater Cave during the summer months. The tours are limited to small groups and require advanced reservations. The tours provide visitors with a unique opportunity to explore the cave’s interior with a knowledgeable guide who can offer insights into the cave’s geology and history.
7. Dragon’s Breath Cave – Pagosa Springs
Dragon’s Breath Cave, located in Pagosa Springs, is one of the most unique and exciting caves to explore in Colorado. It is a lava tube cave, formed by molten lava that flowed through the area around 5 million years ago. The cave features unique formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, and lava icicles.
The cave was discovered in 1974 and opened to the public in 2012. Visitors can explore the cave on a guided tour that takes approximately one hour. The tour covers a distance of about 0.5 miles and includes a 25-foot rappel down into the cave.
The cave’s unique features and rugged terrain make it a popular destination for adventure seekers. The tour includes a combination of walking, crawling, and climbing through the cave. Visitors are required to wear helmets and sturdy shoes, and the tour is not recommended for those with mobility issues or claustrophobia.
The cave’s temperature remains around 42°F throughout the year, so visitors are advised to bring warm clothing. Photography is allowed on the tour, but visitors are not permitted to touch or disturb the cave formations.
Dragon’s Breath Cave is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in exploring the natural wonders of Colorado. With its unique features and exciting tour, it is sure to provide an unforgettable adventure for visitors of all ages.
8. Rat Trap Cave – Eldorado Canyon State Park
Rat Trap Cave is a popular destination for adventurous cavers located in Eldorado Canyon State Park. The cave is not easily accessible and requires a challenging hike and rappel to reach the entrance. Once inside, visitors are treated to stunning rock formations and impressive views of the surrounding canyon.
The cave was formed over millions of years through the process of erosion and features narrow passageways and deep pits that require technical skills and equipment to navigate. The cave’s name comes from the small size of some of the passages, which can feel like being trapped in a rat trap.
The cave is open year-round, but visitors are advised to check the weather forecast before attempting the hike as the terrain can become slippery and dangerous during rain or snow. The cave is also closed during the winter months to protect the resident bat population.
Visitors are required to have experience in technical rock climbing and caving and must obtain a permit from the park before entering. The park also provides information on guided tours and equipment rentals for those who do not have their own gear.
Exploring Rat Trap Cave is not for the faint of heart, but for experienced cavers, it offers a unique and thrilling adventure that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
9. Fulford Folly Cave – White River National Forest
Fulford Folly Cave is another cave located in the White River National Forest that is perfect for adventure seekers. The cave is not as well-known as other caves in the area, making it a more secluded and intimate experience for visitors.
Exploring Fulford Folly Cave is an adventure that requires some skill and courage. It is recommended to bring a guide or someone with prior cave exploration experience. The cave features several narrow passages, tight squeezes, and sharp turns, making it a challenging but rewarding experience.
One of the unique features of Fulford Folly Cave is the presence of underground waterfalls and pools. Visitors can witness the beauty of these natural formations and even take a dip in the cool waters. The cave also features stunning rock formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones.
It’s essential to remember that Fulford Folly Cave is a fragile ecosystem that needs to be preserved. Visitors should avoid touching or removing any formations, as this can damage the cave’s delicate balance. Additionally, it’s recommended to bring minimal gear and leave no trace of the visit.
Exploring Fulford Folly Cave requires preparation and caution, but the experience is well worth it. The natural beauty and unique features of this cave make it a must-visit for any adventure seeker.
10. Helen Hunt Falls Cave – Colorado Springs
Helen Hunt Falls Cave is located in Colorado Springs and is one of the most popular caves in the area. The cave is named after Helen Hunt Jackson, a writer and poet who was known for her works about Native Americans and their culture. It’s situated in North Cheyenne Cañon Park, and it is known for its stunning waterfall that cascades down the rocks and into the cave.
The cave itself is relatively small and narrow, but it is still an excellent spot for those who love adventure and exploring. The cave’s walls are covered in various formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites, which add to its natural beauty. Visitors to the cave are encouraged to wear sturdy shoes with good grip, as the cave can be slippery in some areas.
As with any cave, it is important to remember to respect the environment and leave no trace. Visitors should avoid touching or removing any of the cave’s formations, as this can cause irreparable damage. It is also important to stay on designated paths and avoid entering any areas that are off-limits.
Visitors to Helen Hunt Falls Cave can take a short hike up to the waterfall before exploring the cave. The hike is relatively easy and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels. The trail provides stunning views of the surrounding area, and visitors can see the city of Colorado Springs in the distance.
11. Bighorn Cave – Golden Gate Canyon State Park
Bighorn Cave, located in Golden Gate Canyon State Park, is a relatively small cave that can be explored in just a few hours. This cave is suitable for beginner-level cavers, as it has well-marked paths and is well-lit in most areas.
The cave was named after the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep that inhabit the park. In fact, the park is known for its diverse wildlife, including elk, mule deer, black bears, and mountain lions.
Bighorn Cave is one of the few caves in the park that is open to the public, and it’s a popular destination for cavers of all skill levels. The cave features a variety of formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone.
As with all caves, it’s important to respect the delicate ecosystem that exists within Bighorn Cave. Visitors should avoid touching any formations, as even a slight touch can cause damage that takes decades or even centuries to repair. Additionally, visitors should stay on marked trails and avoid entering any areas that are marked as off-limits.
Those who plan to visit Bighorn Cave should wear sturdy hiking boots and bring a headlamp or flashlight, as the cave can be quite dark in places. It’s also a good idea to bring a jacket, as the cave can be cooler than the surrounding area.
Exploring Unexplored Caves in Denver With Kids
Exploring caves with kids can be a fun and educational experience. However, it is important to choose a cave that is appropriate for children and to take appropriate safety precautions. Some tips for exploring caves with kids include choosing a cave with easy access, bringing appropriate gear and snacks, and ensuring that children are supervised at all times.
Exploring caves with children is a unique and fun experience that can offer a great educational opportunity. However, it is important to choose a cave that is appropriate for kids of all ages. Some caves may have steep and slippery terrain, which can be challenging for young children.
It is also important to take appropriate safety precautions, such as bringing proper gear like helmets, flashlights, and appropriate clothing. It is also a good idea to bring snacks and water, especially for longer cave explorations. Finally, it is important to supervise children at all times to ensure their safety.
Exploring caves requires specialized equipment to ensure safety and comfort. Some essential caving equipment includes a helmet, headlamp, gloves, sturdy footwear, and appropriate clothing. It is important to choose equipment that is durable and fits well to ensure maximum protection.
Caving equipment is crucial for ensuring a safe and comfortable cave exploration. A helmet is necessary to protect your head from falling debris and to ensure that your headlamp stays in place. A headlamp is essential for navigating through dark cave systems. Gloves are important to protect your hands from sharp rocks and to provide a better grip on surfaces.
Sturdy footwear with good traction is necessary to prevent slips and falls. Appropriate clothing should be worn, including long pants and sleeves to protect against scratches and scrapes. It is important to choose equipment that fits well and is durable to ensure maximum protection.
Related: Caving In Denver
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Are all of these caves open to the public?
No, some of the caves are located in national parks and require permits or ranger-led tours.
- Is it safe to explore caves on your own?
No, it is not recommended to explore caves without proper training and equipment.
- Can you bring food and drinks into the caves?
It depends on the specific cave regulations. Some caves allow food and drinks, while others prohibit them.
- What is the best time of year to explore caves in Denver?
The best time to explore caves in Denver is during the summer months when the weather is warm and dry.
- Can you bring children into the caves?
Yes, but it is important to choose a cave that is appropriate for children and to take appropriate safety precautions.
- Are there any guided tours available for these caves?
Yes, some of the caves offer guided tours led by experienced rangers or tour guides.
- Can you camp near any of these caves?
It depends on the specific cave regulations. Some caves allow camping, while others prohibit it.
- Is there an age limit for exploring caves?
It depends on the specific cave regulations. Some caves have age restrictions for safety reasons.
- Can you swim in any of these caves?
It depends on the specific cave regulations. Some caves allow swimming, while others prohibit it.
- Can you bring pets into the caves?
No, pets are not allowed in most caves for safety and conservation reasons.
In conclusion, Denver and its surrounding areas offer a plethora of hidden gems for caving enthusiasts to explore. From the stunning Cave of the Winds to the mysterious Red Mountain Cave, each cave has its own unique charm and features that make it worth exploring.
Before setting out on any caving adventure, it is important to be well-prepared and equipped with the proper gear and knowledge. Always remember to prioritize safety and follow the recommended guidelines for each cave.
Exploring these unexplored caves in Denver is a thrilling experience that offers an opportunity to appreciate the beauty and wonder of nature. Whether you’re a seasoned caver or a beginner, there is a cave for everyone to explore in the Denver area.
So, grab your gear, gather some friends, and embark on an adventure to discover these hidden treasures. And remember, always leave the caves as you found them, so that future generations can also enjoy their beauty.