Facts about caves and stories of my own experience in them.

Lava Bed's National Monument

Author:Naomi Smith

Caves are, by the National Park Service’s definition-
“ A natural opening in the ground extending beyond the zone of light and large enough to permit the entry of man(women).”

Caves have been an important part of people’s lives since the beginning of time.  When people first roamed the earth they were used as homes, burial grounds, places to hunt, and to tell stories.  Nowadays we still use them, just in different ways.  We use them mostly for water, to study animals, and some people even make their homes in caves still.  Some of the purest water is found in caves/wells.
Some of the present day cave homes are pretty cool, though I don’t think I would want to live in one because of the lack of windows.  For some pics of cave homes click here-
The oldest caves drawings, that we know of, are at Sulawesi, Indonesia.  They are believed to be about 35,400 years old.  The paintings are of animals, with hand prints by them.  
For pictures click here-
What are caves made of?  
Caves can be made from just about any kind of rock.  But the main kind is a Solutional Cave, which is made of carbonatic rock.  Carbonatic rock includes limestone, chalk, dolomite, marble, salt, and gypsum.  

The biggest cave in the world is the Hang Son Doong Cave located in Vietnam.  At 656 ft. tall, 492 ft. wide and 5.5 miles long, making it big enough to fit a 40 story tall skyscraper.  The cave has its own habitat, with a river and jungle.
There is no designated “smallest cave” in the world.  

The deepest cave in the world is the Krubara cave, located in the country Georgia, over in Eastern Europe.  It's believed to be 7,208 ft. deep, but the deepest people have been is 6,824 ft.  To get that deep, caving teams had to use explosives; some of the the holes were just way to small.  

The deepest underwater cave, 1,325 ft exactly, is located in the Czech Republic.  Polish diver Krzysztof Starnawski led a diving team to those depths  The cave is made out of limestone, with hot water saturated with carbon dioxide filling it.  One of the teams that went down said that any of their skin that was exposed felt itchy from it.  

I’ve got to go to many different caves on our travels.  Some of my favorites were Wind Cave National Park and Lava Beds National Park.  

Wind Cave, in South Dakota, is one of the world’s most complex and longest caves.  Having almost endless amount of different tunnels, holes, entrances, and dead ends it’s extremely easy to get lost in it if you're not paying attention.  Surprisingly though there has only been one person ever lost(that we know of) in the cave, Rachael Noxs a NOLS student.   She was actually lost when the NOLS students were performing a mock cave rescue procedure; she was found with in 24 hours, alive.  In 2013 the cave became the 6th longest cave in the world, at 140 miles.  My older brother and his caving team discovered about 1 mile of that when he worked there.

For visitors the cave is super accessible by an elevator; where you can take only guided tours.  Most of the trails are paved except for the candlelight and spelunking trail.  I got to do the candlelight one, but not the spelunking one because the age limit is 16 for it and at the time I was 14.  But doing the candlelight tour really gave me a love of caves.  I found myself wanting to go down all the holes out of curiosity.  
For more information on Wind Cave click the link-

Lava Beds National Monument is located in California.  It has around 700 caves, due to the volcanic eruptions that have occurred there; though none are active any more.  The park is also where the Modoc War happened.  
The caves formed from the lava tubes from the volcanos.  When the volcano would erupt the lava would flow through the tubes, then when the volcano stopped erupting the lava would cool and solidify.  Eventually the tube would crack giving entrance to it from the ground.

There was one I got to have my first experience with “real” caving in the old lava tubes.  It really was one of the coolest things I’ve gotten to do.  Just the thought that there had been lava flowing through the tubes that my brother and I were crawling through was pretty incredible.  There had been, of course, rock fall in the tubes and lots of lava rock so it was really different crawling and army crawling over, around, and under the rocks.  There was maybe a couple of spots though that it was a perfect tunnel, the one almost seemed man made.  It was a perfect circle shape with dirt on the bottom to make a pretty nice climbing space.  
For more information on Lava Beds click on the link-