International Year of Caves and Karst 2022—NPS Celebrates!

caver in wet area of cave with stalactites and stalagmites
A caver explores stalactites and stalagmites in a wet area of Jewell Cave. In the U.S., karst landscapes hold 40% of our groundwater. Jewel Cave National Monument, South Dakota. NPS photo.

NOTE: Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the International Year Of Caves and Karst that began in 2021 has been extended through 2022! Please join us in continued celebration with virtual, hybrid, and in-person events throughout the 2022 year.


The National Park Servide is joining in the celebration of The International Year of Caves and Karst (IYCK) to help raise the level of understanding and respect for caves and karst as globally important physical, ecological, and cultural systems.The IYCK will be the largest ever event showcasing caves and karst landscapes across the world.

Caves are natural laboratories for preserving fossils, minerals, and records of past climates. Caves also provide habitats for unique and rare animals. Karst is a type of landscape that forms when rocks are dissolved by weak acids. Features that are often characteristic of karst terrains include caves, sinking or disappearing streams, sinkholes, and springs. The National Park Service manages approximately 5,000 caves, including four of the top 10 longest caves in the world. In the United States, 40% of fresh groundwater that we drink comes from karst aquifers.

The National Park Service and the National Natural Landmarks Program invite you to join in the celebration. Caves and karst areas are part of America’s Geoheritage because of their significant values, uniqueness, and diversity of natural features. We hope you can join us in the celebration and Discover What’s Under Your National Park!

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View the IYCK 2021 National Art Contest Winners
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    Monthly Themes and Highlights

    December 2022 - Archeology

    Theme: Since prehistoric times, people have used caves for many purposes

    Introduction: Caves preserve a variety of archeological resources such as rock art, historical signatures, and more. People have long used caves as dwelling places, burial sites, storehouses, and places of worship. Protected from the sun and elements, caves usually have stable temperatures and high humidity that can preserve artifacts for thousands of years.

    Topics: Cultural resources, human use, artifacts…

    Hashtags: #CaveArcheology

    Featured Links:

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    Stay Connected

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    Visit "Explore Nature" on social media.


    Share Your #IYCK2022

    Join the vibrant virtual community of stewards, educators, and cavers in celebrating #IYCK2022. Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and share opportunities to learn and interact.

    Connect with Cave and Karst Sites

    Solution Caves

    Lava Tubes

    Sea or Littoral Caves
    Talus Caves
    Karst Landscapes
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    Featured Opportunities

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    Three Sources of Light Podcast—Carlsbad Caverns
    Join park rangers for in-depth conversations that illuminate the diverse natural and cultural resources of Carlsbad Caverns National Park. The podcast is produced by the Interpretation Division at Carlsbad Caverns National Park. New episodes will be posted periodically throughout 2021.

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    Celebrate Cave Week! June 5th – June 11th, 2022
    Dozens of parks across the country participate in Cave Week by offering special tours, events, and web-based activities. Celebrate and share #CaveWeek.

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    Become a Junior Cave Scientist
    Explore a fascinating and fragile underground world. Learn about caves and karst landscapes. Complete a few fun activities.

    two people operating a camera in a cave

    Virtual Tour of Lehman Caves—Great Basin National Park, Nevada
    Take a three part video tour—created from 3D imagery!—through the amazing subterranean world of Lehman Caves.

    Explore Further


    Learn More

    Send comments or corrections to email us.

    Last updated: July 8, 2024


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