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
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
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.