DNR Spring Mill State Park
Interim Cave Access Program

WNS in Endless Cave, 2011    

Beginning in 2014, four caves managed by Spring Mill State Park will again be available for group cave tours on an interim basis.

This webpage describes the details of this Interim Cave Access Program within Spring Mill State Park / Cave River Valley. The program is based on the former cave access policies at Spring Mill SP, but also includes required precautionary changes to prevent the potential spread of White-nose Syndrome (WNS) to uninfected regions. The program will be limited to four caves managed by Spring Mill SP:  Donaldson/Bronson, Upper Twin, Endless, and River caves.

The key to post-WNS access to these DNR-managed caves is using effective decontamination procedures. The "decon" procedures are reasonable and relatively easy to follow, but do require additional effort. The Indiana Karst Conservancy (IKC) has volunteered to administer the program in partnership with park staff, although ultimately its success will depend on each cave visitor following the rules.

While the access program is geared primarily towards organized cavers (those belonging to the National Speleological Society and local NSS chapters), other groups will be accommodated as appropriate. Allowing other groups for occasional recreational caving will expand their appreciation of cave resources. It will also provide an opportunity to teach the importance of proper WNS decontamination procedures.

The process for obtaining a cave access permit is as follows:

  1. Groups wishing to arrange trips to the aforementioned caves will initiate a request through the IKC's designated Access Coordinator [Dave Everton, DEverton@indiana.edu, 812.272.2300].
  2. The Coordinator will screen the group's experience and qualifications, explain the specific rules for each cave, and emphasize the importance and necessity of following the decontamination protocols.
  3. If the trip is approved, each member of the group must complete the on-line WNS Training Module, fill out the combined WNS Training Acknowledgement / DNR Caving Permit form, and return all forms (preferably electronically) to the Coordinator. All documents for the group must be received at least 4 days prior to the trip.
  4. The Coordinator will then consolidate the forms along with the trip's approval notice and forward the packet to Spring Mill staff.
  5. The Coordinator will also issue a vehicle placard to the group to be displayed on the dash of each vehicle so park security will know that the cave trip is authorized. Park staff or the IKC Access Coordinator may check in with the group during their visit to ensure that supplies are on board for decontamination procedures.

Cave-Specific Visitation Information and Rules: