River Cave is located in the Cave River Valley Natural Area managed by Spring Mill State Park. The
cave serves as an important and significant winter bat hibernaculum. Entering the cave during the
official closure period is a federal crime with significant penalties. Authorized access
to the cave is permitted May 1 to August 31. The majority of the cave is easy walking with
ankle to knee-deep water. However, the entrance section of the cave has deep water, requiring special
considerations to enter. The cave can flood, so do not enter during high flow, or when there is a chance
of significant rain.
- Proper WNS decontamination protocols must be followed before and after the cave trip. Both the
DNR and IKC will spot check for compliance and groups not following proper procedures will be denied access
and suspended from future trips.
- After the trip, change out of your caving clothes discreetly away from your vehicle. If
impractical, at a minimum remove as much outer clothing as possible before entering your vehicle to change.
Bag and seal everything so as to not contaminate the interior or trunk of your vehicle.
- Properly follow the WNS decontamination protocols to clean your equipment, boots, and clothes when you get home.
- The cave can flood and should not be entered after heavy rains or if there is a forecast for thunderstorms
(the Park reserves the right to deny access to any group on the day of the trip, based upon current or
potential weather conditions).
- The access road gate to Cave River Valley will typically be locked. Assuming that is the case, park to the
side of the entrance road. Do not park on the county road and do not block the gate.
- Walk from the parking area to the cave following the road down into the valley, one of the trails down into
the valley, or the trail that skirts the south end of the valley.
- To navigate the deep water near the entrance, a canoe, kayak, or small raft (less than 4 feet wide) is strongly
recommended. Regardless, each visitor should wear a personal flotation device (PFD).
- All group participants must be at least 16 years old. However, the IKC Access Coordinator has the discretion
to approve exceptions for younger experienced participants.
- Minimum group size is three, maximum is fifteen.
- All group members must have a proper helmet with chin strap, water-proof helmet-mounted light (and backups),
adequate foot wear, and clothing for a 55-degree cave.
- Please be discreet while on the surface in your caving attire, so as to not encourage other park visitors to
enter the caves. If asked by someone, simply say you have authorization from the park to go in the cave.
- In case of emergency, call 911 and request assistance from the Washington County Sheriff or DNR Conservation
- The trip leader should contact the cave’s Access Coordinator [Dave Everton,
DEverton@indiana.edu, 812.272.2300] to discuss the group’s
experience level and other qualifications. This contact should typically be at least several weeks in advance
of the proposed trip.
- Each trip participant must complete the on-line WNS Training
Module, print out the form at the end, read and sign the WNS Training Acknowledgement section, and
the DNR Caving Permit section of the form. Preferably, the trip leader will then collect and mail/e-mail
copies of the forms to the Coordinator. All documents must be received by the deadline date given to
the trip coordinator by the Interim Access Coordinator. Anyone not meeting the deadline may forfeit their
opportunity to participate.
- Once all the forms have been received, the Access Coordinator will send back a dated Trip Authorization/Parking
Placard to the trip leader and also send a trip authorization notice to the park staff.
- The trip leader will print out a Trip Authorization/Parking Placard for each vehicle, which will be displayed
on the vehicle’s dash while in the cave, so Park staff will know you are an authorized group.