Where the Grotto Caves

Here is a short discussion of the regions frequently visited on Boston Grotto caving trips, in order of closest to farthest:

  1. Central Massachusetts Around the Connecticut River, and in a few places between there and Boston, there are a number of short boulder caves and rock overhangs that can be fun to visit for a short trip, during inclement weather,  when other caves are closed, or for fun practicing SRT techniques.  About 1-2 hours from Boston.
  2. Far Western Massachusetts Near the New York border are a substantial number of true solution caves, formed mostly in low grade marble. Some contain attractive passageways, but most are short, with small passageways. About 2-3 hours drive from Boston.
  3. Central Vermont In the Green Mountains, between Manchester and Weybridge, there are a variety of modest size caves. Some are over 1000 feet in extent and contain interesting passageways and even some pits. Unfortunately, many are on the slopes of Dorset Mountain, which has recently been closed to cavers by the landowners, a large marble quarrying company. About 3-4 hours drive from Boston.
  4. Northern New Hampshire There are some large boulder piles in some areas of the White Mountains. In some places you can crawl around under the boulders for significant distances. About 3-4 hours drive from Boston.
  5. Eastern New York New York State has several different caving areas with substantial numbers of medium and large size caves. The most significant is the Helderberg escarpment – Onondaga Formation region, and associated areas of the Appalachian plateau about 20 miles Southwest of Albany, in Albany and Schoharie Counties. Several multi-mile cave systems with large (walking size or greater) passageways are found here. Most Boston Grotto novice training trips use this area or Vermont caves. About 4-8 hours drive from Boston. Some small areas of the Adirondacks, especially near Indian Lake, contain some significant caves. There is also a narrow band of rock in the Southwestern end of the Shawangunk Mountains area, which contains several significant caves with large and extensive passages. Finally, the Watertown area, near the St. Lawrence River has some extensive maze systems with small passages, but many of these are on closed land.  About 4-6 hours drive from Boston.
  6. Maine There are a number of interesting caves in Maine, and the Grotto hosted the 2002 NSS Convention in the mid-Coast region.  They are widely scattered however, and most are short, small, or both.  See the Maine Caving page for details.  About 2-6 hours drive from Boston.
  7. Central Pennsylvania About once a year, the Grotto takes a long weekend trip to visit caves in Central PA (the State College area). There are several significant caving areas within a two hour drive of there. This is about an 9-10 hour drive from Boston.
  8. Western VA, West Virginia There are some very large and extensive cave systems (10s of miles in total length) in the extensive bands of limestone associated with the Appalachian Mountains and the Plateau to the west. These areas start around the Shenandoah Valley near the Maryland borders, and continue almost unbroken all the way to the southernmost Appalachians in Alabama and Georgia. The closest of these areas is about a 13 hour drive from Boston, so these areas are usually visited only on long weekends or extended trips of 4 days or more. The farthest areas accessible from Boston in a single day’s drive are in Southwestern VA, near Blacksburg. The terrain in these areas is very rugged, towns are sparse, and long driving times between caves are common. The reward is some of the best caving in the USA, featuring extensive systems, large passageways and rooms, large and varied formations of many colors, interesting cave life such as cave crickets, salamanders, and bats, and warmer temperatures than the Northeast.
  9. South Western United States In recent years, the Grotto has organized trips to New Mexico and Utah. Significant limestone mountain ranges, including the Guadalupe Mountains, provide great vertical caving and possess incredible natural formations.
  10. Caving abroad Over the years, Grotto members have participated in international caving trips and expeditions. Typically, these trips and expeditions last at least a week, with longer expeditions lasting a month or more.

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