West Virginia Cave Conservancy Preserves

To protect significant caves and access to them, the WVCC may own cave property or develop management agreements with cave owners. We are pleased to protect several important caves in this way.

Conservancy-Owned Caves

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 gate.

Friars Hole Cave & Icebox Cave
(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 by cave explorers. These two entrances are vertical and special skills are required to enter.

Great Savannah Cave System’s Lightner Entrance to Historic McClung Cave
(Greenbrier County, WV)
This is a vertical entrance into 20 miles of the 45+ mile cave system under land that is subject to development. The cave is currently being remapped by the West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

Great Savannah Cave System’s Scott Entrance to Historic Maxwelton Sink Cave
(Greenbrier County, WV)
Historic Maxwelton has over 25 miles miles of the 45+ 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)
Harr Cave #2 is 1,141 feet long and 19 feet deep. The cave 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 WVCC has had multiple conservation trips, cleaning decades of graffiti and trash from this popular cave. Use 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
(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.

Wild Cat Entrance to Culverson Creek System
(Greenbrier County, WV)
One of several known entrances to this 20-mile long cave system. Two entrances, side-by-side, lead to different sections of the cave. This cave is very dangerous during high water conditions.

Conservancy-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)
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 in The Big Room that penetrates the Taggard Shale layer.

Cave Visiting Guidelines

• Burnholt, Donaldson, Haynes, and Maxwelton caves are gated. Prior arrangements must be made.
• Norman Cave is open to responsible cavers only.
• Rapp 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.

WV State Code

Chapter 20 Natural Resources
Article 7A Cave Protection

WV 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.