Last updated: October 31, 2016
Rules for the Cave: What and Why
The idea behind national parks is beautiful: it is the job of people here and now to preserve and protect what’s important to us so people of the future may benefit from these places and ideas as well. In order for the National Park Service (NPS) to successfully accomplish that mission, we have established rules and depend on your cooperation in carrying them out.
The cave is a delicate balance of rocks, water, animals, and air movement. In order to keep it in balance as much as possible, we ask for your help. First, please don’t touch the cave. We all have oil on our skin (sunscreen, lotion, or other products) that will stain the cave. When dust settles on the oil, the stains grow even darker. Skin oils also waterproof the formations so they cease growing. It’s a classic example of oil and water not mixing.
We also ask no food or flavored beverages be brought into the cave. If anything is spilled, it can be difficult to clean out of the rough surface of the cave and trail. Any missed particles will grow mold which wouldn’t naturally occur in the cave. Throwing objects in the pits and pools also grows substances that wouldn’t be in the cave without people. Scents linger in the cave, and the food smells have attracted surface animals into the cave in the past. There is a limited selection of cold, prepared foods for purchase in the rest area. They must be consumed there so we can contain the smells and take out the garbage every day.
Family groups should stay together at all times. Anyone under the age of sixteen must stay within arm’s reach of an adult at all times. Multiple times this year we have had more than 5000 people walk the cave in a single day. Misplaced family members experience great anxiety on such days. It can also be difficult to find people and reunite them when they’ve become separated. Save yourself the headache and stay together!
Our last rule involves the cave, you, and everyone elso in the cave. We need you to whisper when you’re enjoying the underground splendors. Caves are naturally quiet places. We have to have your cooperation to keep them that way. A normal speaking volume can carry one quarter-of-a-mile in the cave. Just as you don’t want to listen to the conversations of the people along the trail, they don’t want to list to you. Please be considerate of others and help the rangers keep the cave as close to its naturally quiet state as possible.
It might seem like a lot to remember, but your actions in the cave make a difference. It all comes down to common courtesy and respect for your fellow visitors and the cave. With your help the cave will still be in showcase condition for your grandchildren’s grandchildren. Thank you for your help and for caring for this spectacular place.