- Mary Caldwell For the AJC
It may be hard to imagine when you spend your time in the middle of Atlanta's lights and asphalt, but Georgia is home to over 500 discovered caves.
Most of Georgia's best caves are in Northwest Georgia, where they were formed by limestone that has dissolved into groundwater over the years.
If you'd like to explore some of Georgia's caves, there are a couple things to remember: 1) Many are located on private property or are otherwise closed to the public, so going into a cave without doing some research could land you in serious trouble; 2) Caves can be dangerous – especially if you don't have the right equipment and experience. They're dark, cold, wet environments and some have steep vertical drops.
However, with the proper precautions, exploring caves (also known as spelunking) in Georgia can be an adventurous way to see an often-hidden part of nature with interesting natural formations and wildlife.
Unless you have a lot of experience and the proper equipment, it's best to visit a cave as part of a tour.
You'll get to share the fun with others while staying safe and learning about the cave's structures and ecosystem.
The following are some caves to explore in Georgia:
Like Sitton's Cave, Case Cave is found in Cloudland Canyon State Park.
It requires rappelling in order to descend about 30 feet into the cave. About three miles of passageway are inside the cave, which includes a lake.
Sometimes also referred to as Petty John's, this cave is located in Walker County and has over six miles of underground trails. Several large rooms can be explored, as well as a tight squeeze that's been dubbed the Worm Hole.
Part of Cloudland Canyon State Park, Sitton's Cave doesn't require ropes to safely explore it since it's a horizontal cave, according to Georgia Girl Guides. You'll be able to see cave formations including soda straw stalactites and travel along muddy banks along the side of an underground river.
This spectacular cave has two of the deepest vertical drops in the U.S., the longest of which is 586 feet down. Located in Walker County, it has a depth of 1,063 feet and is almost 12 miles long. It's a dangerous cave that should only be explored by very experienced cavers.
Fox Mountain Preserve in Dade County is the site of several caves, including Byer's Cave, and it's owned by the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. (SCCI). Byer's is quite challenging and is one of the most advanced horizontal caves in the region.