"Spelunking" is the term that is used to describe the hobby of exploring wild caves. By "wild," we mean non-commercial caves where there is no set trail or guide to take you through it. To make sure that you enjoy your caving experience and get out of it safely, use the following tips.
Never Go Alone
You should never attempt to explore a cave alone. They are easy to get lost in, and there are lots of ways to get hurt. The buddy system is your best bet. Groups of four or more are ideal. That way if someone does get hurt, one caver can stay with them and the other two can go for help. Also, children should always have an adult with them every time they explore a cave.
If the cave is on private property, make sure that you ask the owner's permission to go inside. They may also be able to clue you in on any dangers that they are already aware of.
Know Your Limits
Don't try to do more than you are capable of. Spelunking takes a lot of energy, know-how, and strength. If you aren't sure of your skills, practice before attempting something dangerous in the wild. Also, pay attention to how fatigued you are. You will need as much energy to get out of the cave as you used getting into it. Keep a close eye on the energy level of everyone in your group too. Look out for each other.
Once you are deep inside a cave, it's not always a quick trip back out. You will want to prepare for any possible situation before heading in. Here is a list of items that you should have with you, and make sure that you have a way to keep them dry.
- 3 different light sources
- extra batteries
- first aid kit
- high energy food
- fresh water (cave water could be contaminated)
- hard hat
- knee & elbow pads
- gloves (not just to protect your hands, but to also protect the cave from the destructive oils in your skin)
- sturdy shoes for climbing
- trash bag (for warmth in emergencies)
- something to mark your path
Bridal Cave stays a constant 60° which is not unusual for caves. Being underground results in cooler temperatures. These spaces are also generally damp, so the chance for getting wet is high. Make sure that you have enough clothes to keep your body warm, and something water-resistant is helpful. Dressing in layers is a good idea.
Tell People About Your Trip
Always make sure that someone on the outside is aware that your group is going into the cave, and also the time that you expect to return. That way if something happens to your team while you are in there, your contact will be aware to send help.
Watch the Weather
Many caves have underground streams or springs inside of them. A heavy rain could cause flooding, blocking your way out. Be aware of this possibility before it surprises you.
Spelunking can be a lot of fun, but you need to know what you are doing and where you are going before attempting it. Do some research and prepare yourself before making your first attempt at a wild caving adventure. You might even want to hire a pro to go with you until you learn more.
If guided cave tours are the way you prefer to explore underground, then you're in luck. There are 18 show caves in Missouri, and one of America's most scenic cave tours happens to be located right here at the Lake of the Ozarks. Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park are open year-round, and cave tours leave regularly. Hours change seasonally, so check our website or give us a call before you head over. We love our cave, and we know that you will too. If you decide to go spelunking elsewhere, keep yourself safe.
One of America's most scenic
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526 Bridal Cave Road
Camdenton, MO 65020