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Cave Access in Vermont

Rick Pingree navigates a tight spot in appropriate caving gear

Safe Caving Practices

The VCA recommends each visitor to a cave or mine bring:

  • A helmet with a chinstrap and at least one mounted light source
  • Two backup light sources
  • Sturdy boots
  • Knee pads
  • Warm clothing (caves in Vermont are typically 42-48 degrees Fahrenheit.

When traveling to a cave:

  • Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return
  • Be careful and respectful of cave life
  • Bring any trash out of the cave with you
  • Do not leave string, paint, markers, or candles behind
  • Take care not to damage delicate formations
  • Try to leave everything as you find it

In short, take nothing but pictures – leave nothing but footprints – kill nothing but time.

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Seasonal Visitation

The VCA recommends avoiding any caves or mines with hibernating bats between October and April. Winter disturbance can cause bats to wake from hibernation early and may harm their chances of survival. In addition, White Nose Syndrome puts further stress on the surviving Northeast bat population, making any winter disturbance potentially harmful.

Most caves and mines may be safely visited from May through September with no risk to bats provided visitors appropriately clean their gear according to the National WNS Decontamination Protocol.

First, all gear should be washed and any dirt removed. Then gear should be submerged in hot water at a minimum of 131ºF for at least 20 minutes. Non-submersible or hard gear may be cleaned with 409 spray, Lysol wipes, or bleach wipes. Finally, any chemical residue should be removed with a thorough rinse.

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Cave Closures and Access Advisories

  • Aeolus Bat Cave: As the most significant natural bat hibernacula in New England, Aeolus Bat Cave is currently closed until a proper management plan can be implemented. The VCA hopes for a plan that will allow limited recreational access while still ensuring this unique biological resource is protected.
  • Morris Cave: Morris Cave is a WNS-affected cave. Cavers should refrain from any visitation during the hibernation season (Oct-Apr) to protect surviving bats from disturbance. After hibernation, cavers should adhere to the USFWS cleaning and decontamination protocols to avoid the slim possibility of spreading WNS to unaffected caves. Thank you for helping protect our bats!
  • Nickwackett & Chaffee Mountain Caves: These caves are now closed by landowner request. Nickwackett cave was gated in the summer of 2004.

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