Five US Destinations for Wanna-be Cave Dwellers.

By: Thomas Hunter

If you enjoy caving there are some great destinations in the US for cave lovers. One of the best locations in fact, is an entire state. The state of Missouri is well known for caves and caverns, many of which are rumored to have been used as outlaw hideouts during the days of the Wild West and later the depression era. Several Missouri caves are, according to legend, former hideouts of Jesse and Frank James, and many people believe that bank robbery gold is still buried in the hills. Pretty Boy Floyd during the depression did most of his hiding out in the Ozarks near Bolivar, Missouri, and often hid in Fantastic Caverns, a popular tourist attraction today for the beauty of the rock walls. A little south of Bolivar is the town of Branson, a well known tourist destination today which had its early start in tourism because of Marvel Cave, a great place full of natural rock formations that reminds one of the cave in Tom Sawyer, where Tom and Becky were lost. In the 1800ís Marvel Cave was the scene of meetings of the Baldknobbers, a vigilante group, but by the 1920ís it was a tourist attraction and has been one ever since. Surrounded today by music shows and other attractions, it is still popular for its beauty and wonder.

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico is another cave dweller destination. More than a thousand years ago the prehistoric people of America went into the caverns for shelter and their cave drawings are still near the entrance. Later in the 1800ís settlers found the caverns after seeing hundreds of thousands of bats coming up out of the entrance. Some began to mine the bat guano to sell as fertilizer. One of these men was a cowboy named Jim White who was fascinated by the caves and began to explore. He began to take photographs to convince skeptics, and when interest arose he began to take people on tours which included being lowered 170 feet in a bucket that had previously been used to haul bat guano. When the US department of the Interior heard of the cave in 1923 they sent an inspector named Robert Holley, who wrote of the caverns "...I am wholly conscious of the feebleness of my efforts to convey in the deep conflicting emotions, the feeling of fear and awe, and the desire for an inspired understanding of the Divine Creator's work which presents to the human eye such a complex aggregate of natural wonders...." It wasnít long before Carlsbad Caverns became a national monument, with White named the first ranger of the park. Thousands of visitors go to Carlsbad every year, and are amazed at the beauty of this natural resource.

Caving as a sport has gained in popularity. Many people enjoy the physical exertion and the challenge. Many others are interested in exportation for the advancement of science. Some of the last unexplored portions of the earth are caves. If you are thinking of taking up the hobby of caving, remember that safety is paramount. Cavers wear helmets to protect their head from falls and falling rocks as well as the bumps that are common. Most cavers mount a source of light on the helmet to keep hands free, and really safe cavers will wear two sources of light on the helmet. Halogen lamps and white LEDs are both popular and carbide based systems are often used on expeditions. Clothes worn in caves need to be warm and many prefer wetsuits or polypropylene underwear for protection from moisture. Boots, warm neoprene socks and knee pads are also common.

Visiting caves, whether it is those that are fully explored with tours for tourists, or those that have yet to be explored by the more daring adventurer, is a hobby that makes a wonderful vacation. For thousands of years man used caves as shelter. Even today our tall buildings made of concrete are in many ways man made caves. Humans have a natural inclination to gravitate towards caves and caverns that are fulfilled by exploring, so if you are interested in caving, try a caving vacation, enjoy yourself, but donít cave in.

Wake Up Richer Every Morning... Instant Internet Business Makes Money Automatically... Thomas Hunter is an Internet marketer, author and publisher and has helped hundreds of people become successful Niche Marketers. Explore the highly profitable world of Niche Marketing at our popular membership website.
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