West Virginia Cave Conservancy Preserves

To protect significant caves and access to them, the WVCC owns several cave properties or works with cave owners to develop management agreements for preservation and access. The following are current caves protected by the WVCC.

Photo by Kevin Downey

Photo by Kevin Downey

WVCC Owned Caves

Boar Hole

Greenbrier County, WV

  • The Cowan (historic) Entrance is one of three into the 12-mile-long cave system. This cave is formed in the Union Limestone.

Donaldson Cave

Berkeley County, WV

  • This cave was saved from destruction by a housing development. The cave is a winter home for hibernating bats and is protected with a gated entrance.

Icebox Entrance to Friars Hole Cave System

Greenbrier County, WV

  • This WVCC preserve contains 2 of the 11 entrances into the Friars Hole Cave System. On New Years Eve of 2021 the system was pushed to over 50 miles in length. Exploration is ongoing and the cave is now over 52 miles.

Great Savannah Cave System’s Lightner Entrance to Historic McClung Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

Great Savannah Cave System’s Scott Entrance to Historic Maxwelton Sink Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • Historic Maxwelton has over 28 miles miles of the +53 miles of the entire system. Protection is critical due to a nearby industrial park and hydrologic connections to major caves and springs. The entrance is gated.

Hancock Cave

Smyth County, VA

  • Hancock Cave is 2.5 miles long and is deceptively complicated, having a maze at four different levels with 57 different surveyed loops. The oldest signatures in the cave date back to 1894.

Harr Cave #2

Tucker County, WV

  • This cave is 1,141 feet long and 19 feet deep. It is sporadically-decorated, phreatic, and contains walking passage that ranges from 5 to 12 feet wide and 6 to 18 feet high.

Haynes Cave

Monroe County, WV

  • A small, but historically significant, cave containing Civil War saltpeter workings. In this gated cave, fossil remains of small rodents and a giant ground sloth have been found.

Island Ford Cave

Alleghany County, VA

  • The Conservancy has had multiple conservation trips, cleaning decades of graffiti and trash from this popular cave. The cave is great for educational purposes.

Lost Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • A significant historical saltpeter cave that was mined in the War of 1812 and the Mexican War. The cave is very mazy and has abundant anastomosis and pendants.

Persinger Entrance to Benedict Cave System

Greenbrier County, WV

  • A +15 mile cave system that lies under a rapidly developing residential area, containing a diverse collection of cave formations and biota. The cave has 22 named streams within.

Wild Cat Entrance to Culverson Creek System

Greenbrier County, WV

  • This is one of nine known entrances to this 20-mile cave system. Two entrances, side-by-side, lead to different sections of the cave. This cave is very dangerous during high water conditions.

WVCC Managed Caves

Burnholt Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • Was historically used as a water source as evidence still exists in the cave. This gated cave is currently being mapped.

Norman Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • This highly popular cave, which is the northern entrance to the Bone-Norman System, is only open to responsible cavers. There have been a number of cave rescues in recent years.

Rapps Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • The cave is a major archeological site that is protected by a gated entrance. Access is granted for science only.

Savannah Cave

Greenbrier County, WV

  • The cave is 3,349 feet (0.63 miles) long, 184.6 feet deep and contains an 85-foot drop into the The Big Room that penetrates the Taggard Shale layer.

Cave Visitation Guidelines

  • Burnholt, Donaldson, Haynes, and Maxwelton caves are gated. Prior arrangements must be made.
  • Norman Cave is open to responsible cavers only.
  • Rapps Cave is closed except for scientific work.
  • Savannah Cave is open for exploration and mapping.
  • No prior contact is needed for trips into Hancock, Island Ford, Lightner, Lost, Persinger, or Wildcat caves.

West Virginia State Code

West Virginia Historic Preservation

  • Archaeology, Permits for Excavation requires a person to obtain a permit from the Director of Natural Resources in order to excavate or remove a historic or prehistoric ruin, burial ground, archaeological or paleontological site, including saltpeter workings, relics or inscriptions, fossilized footprints, bones or other such features that may be found in a cave.

WVCC Scientific Collections Policy

  • Collections of biological specimens, geological materials, paleontological remains, archaeological materials, or any other material from a cave or property owned or managed by the West Virginia Cave Conservancy (WVCC) requires express permission of the WVCC.
  • Permission will not be granted unless the applicant demonstrates that they hold, at the date of collection, all applicable state and/or federal permits for such collections (e.g. West Virginia Department of Natural Resources Scientific Collection Permit, Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation Cave Collection Permit, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Scientific Collection Permit, et cetera).
  • Permission to collect will be at WVCC discretion even in cases in which the applicant holds all appropriate permits, and may be withdrawn with notice at any time.