The Best Caves in West Virginia: Complete List

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

West Virginia, the Mountain State, is in the eastern U.S., and is the site of a famous Civil War battle. Known for mountains and rolling hills, West Virginia offers a multitude of great outdoors activities, including skiing, rafting, backpacking, and more. But since you’re here, we know what you’re here for!

Back in 2010, an analysis of a stalagmite revealed that trees had been burned here as early as 100 B.C.. This state carries quite an interesting history, but also an incredible variety of caves.

With several thousand caves, and over a hundred large ones, there’s a massive selection for cavers to choose from when they go to West Virginia. As always, we will cover the best.

Cass Cave

Noteworthy for its large underground waterfall, Cass Cave is found on Cheat Mountain.

Its waterfall, Lacy Suicide Falls, is one of the highest subterranean falls in West Virginia at 139 feet. It was misnamed after a suicide that was thought to have happened at the waterfall, but was actually located a few miles next to the cave’s entrance.

Cass Cave has large rooms filled with stalagmites and stalactites, but also has a few crawl spaces and vertical passages that you may need vertical gear to access. There are also many rimstone dams and smaller waterfalls, making for a visually appealing experience.

When visiting this cave, you may want to bring clothes for lots of water. Cavers report lots of sprays and water-filled crawlways.

Charles Town Cave

Formerly known as Crystal Lake Cave and Lakeland Cave, this cave located in the historical city of Charles Town was discovered by construction workers preparing to excavate the site for a new building.

The cave’s entrance leads to a large lake of clear water, but also had flat dry areas that were often used in the 1920s and 1930s for dance parties by the people living near it. Due to the popularity of the area at that time, it was turned into a commercial venture by machinist Charles P. Weller.

Lights were installed above and below water and the floor was leveled and raised, and a wishing well and boat dock were even added. Fossils were also placed in the cave for a more ‘authentic’ look.

The Charles Town Cave is currently closed to the public, but it is rumored that there are other entrances to the cave in different buildings in Charles Town.

A 3-panel image shows some of the lighting installation process that happened at the Charles Town Cave of West Virginia.

Haynes Cave

Haynes Cave is a historically significant cave known for its saltpeter working artifacts and the Megalonyx (giant lion) fossils found there, which is the state fossil of West Virginia.

There is a drop in Haynes Cave that you need vertical gear to access, but otherwise it can be explored gear-free. Inside, it’s mostly dry and dusty because of the clay combined with gypsum. When there are high levels of rainfall, a drip from the cave’s ceiling forms a shallow pool.

Besides this, the cave stays dry year-round. Due to the dryness of Haynes Cave, there aren’t many formations. The only recorded formation is a volcano shaped stalagmite, which you’ll find 110 feet (33.5 m) into the cave. There are also some gypsum flowers, but the dust in the cave makes them difficult to see.

The local traffic brought to the cave by its history and popularity has damaged the cave and its historical artifacts, so it has been gated to protect what is left.

An image shows the gated entrance to Haynes Cave, through some low hanging branches and vines.

Hellhole Cave

Not to be confused with Hell Hole Cave from Southern California, Hellhole Cave is one of the deepest caves in West Virginia. It is the 7th longest cave in the United States, and the 38th longest cave in the world.

A hibernaculum for Virginia big-eared bats, Hellhole Cave has a large amount of them. Almost half of the world’s population of these bats live here.

In addition, Hellhole Cave has historical significance. It’s the development site of many basic caving techniques by the National Speleological Society, due to the deep pit of 154 feet.

There is only one entrance to this cave, which is located near the bottom of North Fork Mountain. Hellhole Cave is made primarily of ‘New Market’ limestone, which is popular for its good commercial quality. This cave is not open to the public, but permission to visit can be given by its owners.

A caver descends into Hellhole Cave of West Virginia via rappel.

Lost World Caverns

Lost World Caverns is a popular series of caves in West Virginia. Well-known for its beautiful formations, the site is a National Natural Landmark. Originally named Grapevine Cave, the long vertical entrance drop was used by farmers to dump dead animals and other waste.

In the 1960s, the cave was surveyed by a local university and over a mile of connected passages were discovered. A decade later, the site was cleaned up, renovated, and turned into a tourist area.

The ‘walking’ area in the caverns has a large room that holds popular formations such as the Bridal Veil, Goliath, Snowy Chandelier, Ice Cream Wall, Castle, and War Club (which is famous for being sat on for almost 16 days by Bob Addis, putting him into the Guinness Book of World Records). There are also undeveloped versions of the cavern you can explore.

These areas are tighter and have many crawl spaces. The Lost World Caverns are currently open to the public.

An image shows massive formations and a wooden railway built around a natural walkway in the Lost World Caverns.

Organ Cave System

Also a National Natural Landmark, The Organ Cave System is the largest cave system in West Virginia, and one of the longest in America at 700 miles long.

It has a very rich history which contains the discovery of ice-age fossils, Native American settlement (native carvings can even be viewed here), and nitre mining from the American Civil War (this site has America’s largest collection of saltpeter hoppers from the Civil War Era). This cave system has many patches of formations, but the most popular of these is a large organ shaped group of stalactites, named ‘The Organ’, which the cave system was named after.

The Organ Cave System has a bright entrance covered in flora, which leads into a dark steep pit. This pit leads into very spacious rooms, allowing for exploration of the caves to be easy. The Organ Cave System is open to the public.

A man stands looking up at the massive cave wall inside the Organ Cave System of West Virginia.

Seneca Caverns

A show cave noteworthy for its karsts, the Seneca Caverns are made of limestone. This limestone is thought to be some of the oldest on the East Coast.

These caverns were discovered near the 1770s and have been preserved well. You can still see many formations that were seen as far back as the 19th century. The Seneca Caverns have many large rooms that are filled with stalagmites and stalactites that form unique shapes.

In addition to this, there are lots of large flowstone formations that are unique to Seneca. Aside from lights brought into the caverns, the Seneca Caverns are usually very dark.

A very colorful blue and red lighting decorates the inside of Seneca Caverns.

Sinks of Gandy

The Sinks of Gandy, or simply The Sinks, is a cave and underground stream located in the Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia. The cave was named after Uriah Gandy (or Gandee), a settler who lived near the Sinks around 1781.

The southern ‘entrance’ of the Sink is a large chunk of limestone in a meadow. The ceiling is around 30-60 feet high and there are sections that have wide and small water flow.

The Sinks are mostly walkable, so no gear is required. Due to the stream in the cave, however, you might want to bring a pair of shoes meant to be wet if you plan on going inside.

The entrance to West Virginia's Sinks of Gandy is shown, with a creek leading into a large cave mouth by some trees.

Smoke Hole Caverns

A popular tourist site near Petersburg, these caverns get their name from their historical usage by the Seneca Indians to smoke wild game at the front entrance.

Early settlers called the area the Smoke Hole because of this. Thus, when discovering the caverns, the When the caverns were discovered they were named for this. Local lore states that the fresh water inside was used to produce moonshine.

The caverns have many rooms and a cold stream that flows through them. Through these rooms, you can see many ‘bizarre looking’ stalagmites and stalactites formed from mineral deposits and a crystal cave coral pool, which is only 1 of 2 in the world. The caverns have many vertical pits, but they are accompanied by stairs. There’s no need to bring any equipment.

A massive chandelier-like structure of stalactites hangs from the ceiling inside the Smoke Hole Caverns.


Between the intriguing fossils and natural waterfalls, there’s much to experience when you see some of these caves in West Virginia. The Organ Cave System is likely to keep you occupied for quite some time, both due to its colossal size and its rich history.

When you’re all done in West Virginia, you might still have a bit of energy to explore some other caves nearby. The neighboring states offer plenty of options:

Ohio Caves

Pennsylvania Caves

Maryland Caves

Virginia Caves

Kentucky Caves

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