Va Cave Week

Presented by friends of the Virginia Cave Board

This year we are celebrating Virginia Cave Week
June 2 through 8, 2019


Cave Week Theme

In the Bootsteps of Captain Karst

(John Holsinger's legacy and contributions to caving in Virginia)

(See John Holsinger's online obituary at this location)

Let's hear it for Virginia Cave Week!

Virginia Cave Week promotes an understanding of Virginia's caves and the surrounding limestone habitats known as karst. Sponsored by the Virginia Cave Board, the week is used to highlight a specific theme related to karst and provide resources and educational opportunities to engage the community in conservation efforts. Educators are encouraged to involve their students using in-class activities and visitation to the state's numerous commercial caves

This Web site is a resource for material related to cave and karst education. Check out the different tabs for information and links having to do with caves, karst-related education, class-room activities, virtual caves, and more. Enjoy.

Virginia Cave Week Events and Activities

During Virginia Cave Week, you are invited to participate in the following specially scheduled events and activities.

Monday, June 3, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Ogdens Cave Preserve, Middletown, Frederick County

This event is near Winchester, Front Royal, and Northern Virginia. Come any time between 5 and 8 p.m. to visit the cave that John Holsinger deemed an "epikarstic hot spot," home to three cave crustacean species, a state listed cave snail, and the only known location of the thin-necked cave beetle (Pseudanophthalmus parvicollis.)  Learn the story of how the combined efforts of the Cave Conservancy of the Virginias, The Nature Conservancy, the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Natural  Heritage Program, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, and VA Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) came together to create a natural area preserve to protect Frederick County's longest cave. Call 804-786-7951 to register.  Closed toe shoes are required, helmets and lights will be provided.

Tuesday, June 4
Grand Caverns and Madisons Cave
Cave Hill, Grottoes, Augusta County

3:00 pm - Dan Doctor will provide a geological interpretation of the main tour cave in Grand Caverns. The discounted rate is $15 for ages 13 and up, $8 ages 6-12. Space is limited to 35 and registration is required.

6:00 pm - DCR’s Karst Protection Coordinator Wil Orndorff will lead the tour of Madison Cave, home to the federally protected Madison Cave isopod and a suite of other rare species. The path in Madison Cave is undeveloped, so sturdy closed-toed shows are required, but helmets and lights will be provided. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are recommended. Space is limited to 12 and registration is required.

Cave Hill in the aptly named town of Grottoes in Augusta County, where numerous caves host a suite of globally rare species.  Cave Hill is home to the Madison Cave isopod, discovered by John Holsinger and his mentor Tom Barr in 1958.  This federally protected crustacean's closest living relative are ocean dwellers who ancestors colonized the limestone aquifers of what is now the Shenandoah Valley millions of years ago.

Wednesday, June 5, 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.
New River Cave, near Blacksburg, VA

Visit New River Cave near Blacksburg just like Captain Karst did when he was a student at VPI in the 1950s.  Learn about the natural history of this unique cave, now owned and managed by the National Speleological Society.  Participants are welcome to just visit the entrance, or visit a portion of the cave with experienced local cavers. Optional parts of this tour require some light climbing and crawling. Closed-toe shoes are required. Long pants and long-sleeved shirts are recommended. Helmets and lights will be provided. Registration is required.  Call 804-786-7951 to reserve a spot.

Thursday, June 6:   5:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.
National Cave Day! Unthanks Cave near Jonesville, VA

National Cave Day!  Come celebrate Cave Day after work with a tour of Unthanks Cave near Jonesville, Virginia, which of all Virginia's caves was Captain Karst's favorite.  We'll explore some of the 8 miles of passages, seeing both beautiful cave formations and some of the rare cave animals that John Holsinger spent his career studying and advocating for their protection.  Call 804-786-7951 to reserve a spot - limit 15.

Friday, June 7:  6 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Cove Ridge Center, Natural Tunnel State Park.
The Legend of Captain Karst:  Caves and karst of Rye Cove

Come learn why world famous cave biologist John "Captain Karst" Holsinger designated Rye Cove as one of the seven karst wonders of Virginia.  The caves of Rye Cove are home to many rare subterranean creatures, including two known only from the cove!  Holsinger pioneered exploration of these caves in the 1960's, and discoveries of new species and new caves continue to this day. Wil Orndorff of the Virginia Natural Heritage Program, whose job description should read "follow in Holsinger's bootprints and see what you find," will lead the evening's events, which will include a short driving tour of Rye Cove and a slide show.  Call 804-786-7951 to reserve a spot on the tour. Space on the tour is limited to 20 and registration is required.  The presentation will be at 7:30 p.m. in the Cove Ridge Center and is open to all.

To reserve a spot for the limited space in these events above, please call Timothy Hatton at 804-786-7951.

Additional events scheduled for Saturday June 8


Saturday, June 8: 10:00am to 4:00pm
Cave info and Catawba Murder Hole Movie, Science Museum of Western Virginia, Center in the Square, Roanoke, VA

Free handouts about caves, bats, sinkholes, karst, cave safety, and cave conservation. Information and resources about Virginia Cave and Karst week and "Captain Karst" (Dr. Holsinger). Information about Blue Ridge Grotto - local caving club. Multiple showings of the 28-minute documentary movie "Murder Hole Cave" - an infamous cave in Catawba, VA. Show and tell caving items such as helmets, vertical gear, posters about cave formation, bats, etc. Cavers present available for Q&A. There will be copies of the Murder Hole Cave books and movies available for purchase. The event is included in the general admission prices of the Museum: Adults (18-59): $15.00; Senior (60+) & Military: $13.50; Youth (6-17) & Student: $13.50; Child (3-5): $7.50; Infant & Toddler: Free

Click here for the 'Facebook Event'


Saturday, June 8: 9:00am to 3:00pm
One day field trip on the karst of the Shenandoah Valley

Dan Doctor will lead a 1-day field trip on the karst of the Shenandoah Valley on Saturday, June 8. The trip will begin at Hupp's Hill Civil War Park in Strasburg at 9:15 AM, and end approximately at 3:00 PM near the town of Boyce. Space is limited to approximately 10 people, so please RSVP to The tour of Skyline Caverns will cost $20 per person. Please bring a bag lunch. 

Stop 1 (9:15 AM): Karst Features of Hupp’s Hill in Strasburg (gate opens at 9 am)
This first stop will be a limestone quarry, with nice exposures of epikarst development that is typical for the region. We will be able to walk around the quarry and see the development of closed depressions (sinkholes) related to solutional processes and the loss of sediment into the limestone bedrock.  

Stop 2 (10:45 AM): Commercial cave tour of Skyline Caverns. We will discuss multiple aspects of cave science, including clues as to how the cave passages formed, what controls the growth of formations in the cave, what can be learned from cave sediments, and some aspects of cave biology. Bring a camera and a small handheld flashlight, as these will serve to enhance your tour of the cave. The tour will last about 1.5 hours, and bring a bag lunch to enjoy afterward at the site. 

Stop 3 (~1:15 PM): Blandy Farm karst features. Our third stop will be at the Blandy Farm/Virginia State Arboretum.   We will see a karst spring, a closed depression, discuss the depositional environment of the sediments that make up the limestone bedrock, and see records from the USGS index water well for Clarke County.

Stop 4 (~2:15 PM): Spout Run tufa deposit. The fourth and final stop will be at a waterfall along a tufa-depositing stream. We will discuss the paleoclimatic significance of the tufa, the measurements made at the USGS stream gage above the waterfall, and studies of stream chemistry conducted at this site.



Captain Karst aka John Holsinger.
Photo by Wil Orndorff



Grand Caverns

Grand Caverns - photo by Dave Socky





Va Cave & Karst Trail


Contact Info

Copyright 2019, Friends of the Virginia Cave Board.
All rights reserved
Webmeister: David Socky