Caving Tours and Programs: Here’s What you Should Know

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing products through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. If you would like to learn more, please read this Disclaimer for details.

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.

Caving is one of the best ways to see the earth’s inner beauty. Thousands of people explore caves each year for both learning and adventure and finish their trip with smiles and an incredible sense of achievement.

Want to give your loved ones a challenge that is both exciting and educational?

Opt for a guided caving tour. It is physically challenging and enjoyable. However, a question you might ask is: “Who can go on these caving tours?” Since there are some conditions in most programs, it’s best to know in advance so you can follow them as needed.

  • Children up to the age of 15 require adult supervision.
  • Children under the age of 8 can’t participate in most programs.
  • You need to plan caving tours with an experienced instructor.
  • An adult can supervise up to 9 children on a family trip.
  • You can never go alone to explore an unknown territory, even if you are an adult.
A group of cavers wearing headlamps and protective gear on a cave tour.
Don’t forget to bring a headlamp for hands-free light!

The caving companies/programs often make all the arrangements at the cave.

They understand that most people visit the cave for fun and adventure only. The average person going on a caving trip won’t have all the necessary equipment or safety knowledge. That’s why when you sign up for a caving program, they often provide high-quality safety equipment and a highly experienced instructor for guidance and safety.

We have divided the caving programs into three main categories.

1 – Junior Caving Tours/Programs

The Junior Caving Tours and Programs are for children aged 8-17 years.

In this program, children learn about the National Park System and participate in fun and educational activities. They study and explore the fascinating and fragile underground world. The instructors teach them the basics of earth science, mapping, anthropology, and biology and also assist them in learning and comprehending the values of caves.

In addition, children also learn about the work cave scientists do. 

For instance, the instructors tell them how the cave scientists preserve fossils, ecosystems, and record of past climates, and also how they study the rocks and other aspects of the cave for professional scientific studies.

When students or children complete their trip in the junior caving program, they often earn a badge that shows them that they explored the world beneath their feet.

The main goal of this program is to connect children with nature.

Professional cavers introduce many in-park activities too that increase students’ interest and highlight their particular intellectual skill.

Junior Caving Tours & Programs usually start at 10:00 AM and 02:00 PM

Children and students need to have proper clothing. The outfits for caving cost around $30. If you are buying caving outfits for a group, they can charge $25 per person. The light sources are generally provided by the companies. They give you either a headlamp or a handheld light; depends on the underground conditions. If you’d like to buy your own headlamp to guarantee comfort or reliability, you can check out some on our review here. But for a one-time expedition, you may not need to bring much of your own gear.

A group on a cave tour at Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota.
A group touring at Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota.

2 – Advanced Caving Tours/Programs

Advanced caving tours programs are for the seniors and experts.

The age range in this program is 16+. They have the same format as Junior Caving Programs. The only difference is some activities are slightly more challenging. You have to be physically fit and mentally strong to take part in them. In advanced programs, vertical caving is also involved that can be a tad dangerous if you are trying it for the first time.

Advanced program’s presentations can be more in-depth. The instructor can teach you about the wildlife and reveal how the scientists research on plants, birds, or insect life inside the cave.

Safety is the fundamental part of this program; the company will give you the training first if you are a novice because advanced programs consist mostly of vertical passages, that’s why it can potentially be dangerous and accidents or injuries can happen.

We don’t recommend advanced caving programs for beginners due to many reasons.

Your body might not handle the challenging climbs, and some vertical passages might leave you sore for a week. You will be exploring an utterly unknown territory and tight passages can give some of you anxiety or panic attacks.

Therefore, start with Junior Programs or opt for those programs that involve only horizontal caving; it is simple and the passages are comfortable too.

If you still want to try advanced caving programs, always follow the guidance and never do anything alone. Make sure the program instructor or a competent caver is always with you who can help you in challenging activities and passages.

3 – Family Caving Programs

Family Caving Programs offer you challenges and excitement side by side.

Your guide is in charge of your family’s safety. He will explain and demonstrate the proper use of caving gear, and tell you how to move inside the cave. Most of the family trips are inside the horizontal cave as the caving program companies understand that families want to feel the excitement in a new world; they are generally not interested in the challenging and dangerous activities. However, there are still some thrilling activities in the family caving programs that allow your children and your loved ones to test their courage.

The family caving trips start from 07:00 AM in most programs; you pay $20 for an adult and $7 for a junior. If you are a frequent visitor and have a VIP pass of some caving company, you might get a special discount.

Remember to purchase family tickets in advance since they frequently sell out, especially on weekends and holidays.

The caving companies have to arrange the equipment for your family, such as caving headlamp, protective boots, ladder, etc. They need to know in advance about your trip and timing so that they can arrange the activities for you.

Also, keep in mind, caving programs are typically not for those who are in a wheelchair because of narrow passages and stairs in the cave. If someone is in a wheelchair in your family, he/she can visit their visitor center and have a full-length tour on their website or participate in those family programs and activities that are arranged outside the cave.

A large group on a caving tour offered at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
A large group tour offered at Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.


By signing up for a caving program, everyone can enjoy a fun adventure and learn something new, without worrying about real danger.

You might prefer caving alone, but it is not recommended for beginners. It is safer and might be just as fun to sign up for a program and have a highly skilled and knowledgeable instructor with you. Instructors don’t just provide more education, but can serve as your lifeguard if anything goes wrong.

Leave a comment