Spelunking

     Spelunking is not just a fun word to say, but it is also a fun activity for many adventurous people.  If you are unfamiliar with the term “spelunking”, it refers to the act of exploring caves, or “caving”.  Spelunking is often referred to as an extreme sport, due to the amount of physical activity that is involved, as well as the mental exercises that are required for being deep within the earth.

Spelunking is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of various ages and physical activity levels, mainly because there are a wide variety of caves to access; therefore, you can easily locate a cave that is appropriate for your own personal interest and capability.  Some caves are much more difficult to access and to navigate than others, so it is important that you do your research prior to choosing a cave to explore.

Exploring caves has grown in popularity in the past few decades, and through trial and error, the methods and supplies that are used to increase the safety of cave explorers has developed into a thriving industry.  Some of the essential spelunking supplies include; a helmet, a headlamp that is attached to your helmet, protective, flexible, and warm clothing, protective and sturdy footwear, plenty of food and water for nourishment, a few first aid supplies, and, of course, a camera so you can capture all that you find in the cave on film.

     One other thing that is essential when exploring caves is a buddy.  It is never recommended that you go spelunking alone, in case something goes wrong and you need assistance.  There are several spelunking tour companies or clubs around, so there is always the availability of someone to go with you.  A database of spelunking clubs can be located by reaching the National Speleological Society, which is the group that governs spelunking activities in the United States.

There are several wonderful caves throughout the U.S. that can be explored.  Just a few of the most popular sights are listed below:

-Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky:  With over 400 miles of cave terrain to explore, this cave system is the longest one in the entire world.

-Luray Caverns, Virginia:  Originally called Luray Cave, this landmark is a favorite among cave explorers and is especially nice for novice explorers.  There are guided tours offered here on a year-round basis.

-Polar Caves Park, New Hampshire:  Located in the White Mountain region of New Hampshire is this unique, glacier-formed cave system.  The temperature within these caves stays very cold all throughout the year, so be prepared if you choose to explore this caving destination.

-Natural Bridge Caverns, Texas:  This huge cave system is known to be the largest commercial cave system within the state of Texas.  Explorers of all ages can find interesting things to do at this cave destination.

-Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota:  Located in the Black Hills, there are over 200 miles of caves to explore in this location.  This cave system is the third longest system in the world.

As you can see, there are many spelunking opportunities in the United States, as there are also many around the world.  If you have an interest in this type of sport, then you will find that the underground world awaits you.

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