Watch your head

Staffer spends the day navigating underground

While most of Ben Davis was putting on tuxes and prom dresses, I was in the final stretch of a four-hour-long trek through Sullivan Cave.

I had my doubts about spending my afternoon underground. Something about potentially dangerous climbing and swimming didn’t appeal to me.

But the trip was totally worth it and although I don’t want to make a hobby out of it, I’d like to take more caving trips. Some brave souls, however, do make caving into a hobby or even a career.

Indiana has hundreds of caving opportunities for all skill levels. There are commercial caves like Marengo or Indiana Caverns where you can take a walking tour. These often include sidewalks and electric lighting.

Non-commercial caves offer more opportunities to explore. Buckner Cave outside of Bloomington is a good place to start. Indiana also has opportunities for skilled spelunkers like Binkley Cave — Indiana’s largest cave and the eleventh longest cave in the United States with 40 miles of mapped passageways.

However, there is a lot to consider and prepare before you decide to go on a trip.

You’ll need the appropriate gear for whatever obstacle you might face inside the cave including a helmet, headlamps, lots of batteries, etc. You may need layered clothing or a wet suit depending on the trip.

Every cave is unique.  It is also vital to be physically prepared as a trip is likely to include some combination of crawling, swimming and rappelling.

When planning a trip, it’s also important to know the lingo so you understand what you’re getting into. I thought that “The Popcorn Crawl” sounded like a cool code-word, but as it turns out, “popcorn” is a word for a kind of lumpy rock formation that I had to army-crawl over

So should you ever grow tired of Indiana’s endless corn fields, try exploring our state beneath the surface. Although it takes lots of preparation and LOTS of hard work, caving is truly a brag-worthy and rewarding experience.

To get started, check out the Central Indiana Grotto (CIG). They are, as their website states, “a diverse group of people with a common interest in caves and caving.” Visit for more information or to start planning a trip.