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Adventure, Travel / July 15, 2015

Colorado’s best “wild” spelunking

Written by: Anna Baldwin

Where caving in Colorado goes, most of our experiences began and ended with with a middle school field trip to the Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs. And while that place is fun, it’s a long way from wild.

So this week, we scoured the dark underbelly of Colorado’s public lands for its very best spelunking adventures. They’re both (reasonably) claustrophobic friendly, and not one of them has a gift shop.

If you go: Wear long pants and sturdy boots. Also bring a headlamp, another back-up light source, warm layers (caves are cold and wet), and a helmet. Kneepads and gloves are suggested, as is a “pee bottle” for responsible bladder relief (seriously… don’t pee in the caves).

For beginners: Eagle’s Fulford Cave

 

 

Photo by denverkid.

Located 15 miles south of Eagle, Fulford Cave is great for first-time spelunkers. Crawling and crouching in some places in the cave is necessary, though some rooms have 80-foot ceilings. The actual cave boasts over a mile of passageways, most of which are flat and easily walkable.

If you go: Advance registration is required (and free) to access Fulford Cave. Just read the rules and register online with the local USFS station. The USFS operates a campground near the cave entrance, where sites are available for $8 a night. A comprehensive guide to the cave itself is available online.

Getting there: The trailhead starts at Fulford Cave Campground in White River National Forest. Hike .75 miles from the parking lot to the entrance. The most obvious culvert is the main entrance. There are two other entrances with vertical drop-ins, but these are for more advanced cavers.

 

For urbanites: Golden’s Fault Caves

 

Photo by Samantha McCormick.

The Fault Caves outside Golden aren’t the kind of caves we’re used to—they weren’t carved from wind and water, and they don’t have any big, rounded chambers. They were formed by a series of faults in the rock, and consist of a series of tight crawlspaces and hallway-like passages.

If you go: The Fault Caves are accessed by a short (but steep) hike on an obvious trail, so they’re very popular. Expect to find broken beer bottles, graffiti, and similar teenage detritus. If you feel like doing a good deed, consider bringing some gloves and trash bag.

Getting there: Take Highway 6 west from Golden for about 2 miles. Park at mile marker 270 in the parking lot to the south. The trail up to the entrance is obvious from this lot.

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about the author

Anna Baldwin

Anna Baldwin is a part-time writer, part-time web developer and full time skier in Boulder, Colorado. She enjoys exploring her state during epic multi-sport days with her adorable German Shepherd mix.

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