Williams Canyon Project
Cave Survey

Exploring on Your Own

South of Eagle, the White River National Forest’s Fulford Cave is a favorite destination of underground explorers of all abilities. Invariably each summer, visitors are lost or injured in the cave, though it is not particularly difficult or complex. It is challenging, however, to the untrained visitor, who may become disoriented and lose their way either on the way in or out. The cave’s underground stream is the big attraction, reached by following a well-established route over the Devil’s Washboard, a low passage linking two larger corridors. A splendid waterfall near the head of the stream is the destination of most visitors.

Near Buford, another White River National Forest cave offers a larger, more impressive underground stream. Spring Cave, located along the South Fork of the White River, contains Colorado’s largest cave stream. It regularly floods in the spring, often completely filling the cave with water. By late summer, however, the stream volume lowers considerably. Visitors can then follow a series of corridors along the stream to an emerald-green lake and the noisy Thunder Road cascades.

Unfortunately, Spring Cave, like many other well-known Colorado caves, is tarnished by the thoughtless vandalism of past visitors. Graffiti covers the cave walls and many stalactites are long removed. Recognizing that vandalism to caves lasts forever, the Colorado State Legislature in March 2004 passed a Cave Protection Act, which provides for penalties for cave vandalism. This new law protects both public and private caves.

At Hubbard’s Cave, the plugging of the Mystery Pit with rocks and debris is one of the many examples of thoughtless vandalism the cave has suffered in the 111 years it has been known. For many years, a historic outdoor Coca-Cola thermometer graced the cave’s entrance room (always reading 31 degrees). Sadly, it has been missing since the late 1970s.

Despite the vandalism, Hubbard’s Cave visitors enjoy its level walking passages and sparkling white gypsum deposits. Access to the cave is by a steep and winding four-wheel drive road leading to the rim of Glenwood Canyon.

As to the Mystery Pit, its mystery remains: is this the same pit that a teenaged boy was lowered into during the 1920s but failed to reach the bottom? To resolve the mystery, a group of cavers attempted to excavate the debris and unclog the fissure, hoping to find lost passage. Though air could be felt drifting through the debris, the group also heard voices from the other side – another group of cavers who walked around to another passage and found a tight squeeze blocked with rock.

Was this a simple connection between the Mystery Pit and the cave’s eastern-most corridor? Or, was this another passage connecting to the Mystery Pit, which to this day is choked with rocks and dirt?

Colorado cavers don’t know – that’s the excitement and adventure of Colorado underground.