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So you want to cave?
NSS Board of Governor’s representative and sometimes California caver Cindy Wu offers advice for newbies.
How to get started
Caving YouTuber, Derek Bristol, offers advice on how to get started in caving.
A Guide to Responsible Caving published by the National Speleological Society, 5th edition, 2016
SFBC conservation guidelines.
Gems of the Golden State : The 15 best caves to visit in California is richly illustrated with nearly seventy top quality photographs by life SFBC members, Peter and Ann Bosted, who have been photographing California’s finest caves for over two decades.
National Speleological Society (NSS)
Our parent organization. Contains links to grottos in your area, information on all things about caves and caving, and volunteer opportunities with the NSS. For more specific regional information, try one of the links below:
- Arizona Regional Association
- Mid-Appalachian Region Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey
- Mississippi Valley Ozark Region
- Northeastern Region New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Conneticut, Eastern Canada, Massachusettes, and Vermont
- Northwest Caving Association Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Utah, Western Canada
- Ohio Valley Region Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky
- Rocky Mountain Region Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah
- Southeastern Regional Association Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee
- Southwestern Region New Mexico, West Texas, and Eastern Arizona
- Texas Speleological Assocation
- Virginia Region Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia
- Western Region California, Nevada, and Oregon
- Contact information for other regions… Northeastern, Southeastern, South-Central, Rocky Mountain, and Southwestern
- 2020 Convention in West Virginia
- 2021 Convention in California
- 2021 International Congress of Speleology in France
An association of NSS grottos in California, Nevada, and Southern Oregon which promotes cave conservation, the scientific study of caves, exploration, and speleoeducation. SFBC is part of the Western Region and by joining SFBC you automatically get Western Region membership as well.
NSS Cave Diving Section
Diving in caves requires special equipment and training. Learn about this dangerous, yet rewarding, combination of caving and diving here.
Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group
You’re a little further north? The Vancouver Island Cave Exploration Group covers caving in western Canada, focusing on Vancouver Island. There are also links to other caving groups in western Canada. This is a great starting point for Canadian cavers!
SFBC provides these resources for gathering more information about vertical caving techniques–single rope technique (SRT) and appropriate gear.
- NCRC Instructor Ken Demarest Caver Vertical Gear Minimal Guide
- SPRAT Technician Jesse House Caving SRT Personal Kit
- SoCal Grotto
- Caver YouTuber Derek Bristol
- Notes on Alpine-style SRT copied from Sherry Mayo’s Cave Page
Cave Research Foundation
The Cave Research Foundation (CRF)coordinates research efforts and expeditions. California based CRF projects work with the Sequoia and Kings Canyon Cave Management and Lava Beds Research Center. The CRF West trip calendar is available here.
Sketching and Surveying 101
Created in 2000. Cave survey technologies have advanced, but the general principles are the same and the info for sketching is still highly pertinent.
COMPASS is a cave mapping software package designed to edit, process, analyze and view cave survey data using any Windows-based computer. The programs in the system allow you to enter cave data, revise the data, generate statistics on the cave, close loops, view plots from any angle and finally, print finished quality plots on almost any printer or plotter.
SFBC conservation guidelines.
Bat Conservational International
SFBC is a supporting member of Bat Conservation International dedicated to “promote more effective protection of bats and their habitats through collaboration of bat researchers, private organizations and foundations, corporations, and government agencies in Mexico, Canada, and the United States.” While there, be sure to visit their closed cave list and the archives of their newsletter, BATS Magazine, and check out the guide on how to build a bat house.
Central Coast Bat Survey
The Central Coast Bat Survey is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of bats. Their philosophy is one of education, rehabilitation of injured and orphaned bats, and cooperation with other conservation efforts.
Northern California Bats
NorCalBats is dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of bats throughout Northern California.
National Cave Rescue Commission (NCRC)
What do you do if you get injured or lost in a cave? Who do you call if you can’t get yourself out? Well, noone because you’re stuck in a cave. But your friends and family should have access to this information in case of an emergency. Every member of your group should also know who to contact if the unthinkable happens. The NCRC contains information critical for all cavers to know.
Caving gear is quite specialized, nevertheless, you can find some pieces at generic outdoors stores or even Amazon. The caving community is small and we ask that you support our caving vendors.
- Inner Mountain Outfitters
- Karst Sports
- On Rope 1, Inc.
- Elevated Climbing
- Gonzo Guano Gear
- West Virginia Underground
- Swaygo Gear (bags)
- Pigeon Mountain Industries (rope)
- CaveSkinz (custom bags and suits)
- CrabApple Whitewater (413-625-2288) (used wetsuit for caving)
- Gus T Harts
- Petzl.com (just view catalogue)
- More Caving Vendors (updated 2013)
California and Federal Caving Laws, Plus Laws in Other States
If you’re a California caver, you must read this information! We also provide links to other sites on the Web where you can find legal information in your state.
National Cave and Karst Research Institute
The National Cave and Karst Research Institute (NCKRI) is a non-profit government-supported institute headquartered in the City of Carlsbad, New Mexico. Its goals are to conduct, support, facilitate, and promote programs in cave and karst research, education, environmental management, and data acquisition and sharing.
Karst Informational Portal
The Karst Information Portal is an open-access digital library linking scientists, managers, and explorers to quality information resources in order to inform research, to enhance collaboration, and to address policy decisions concerning karst environments. It is provided by NCKRI and University of South Florida.
Karst Field Studies at Western Kentucky University
Run by a group of twenty professors, specializing in all topics cave related, this organization studies karst related issues, particularly involving caves. If your interested in the scientific side of caving, they also offer classes.
California State Parks Service
The home page for the California State Parks Service. Get the inside track on our state parks!