Caving Ethics

Although the law protects cave resources, it is really the ethical behavior of cave visitors, land owners, and resource managers that counts. We should respect the natural contents, archaeological artifacts, life, and water of caves because they are not often cleansed, regenerated, or replaced when damaged. The National Speleological Society’s policy on cave ethics is as follows:

  • Caves have unique scientific, recreational, and scenic values
  • These values are endangered by both carelessness and intentional vandalism
  • These values, once gone, cannot be recovered
  • The responsibility for protecting caves must be formed by those who study and enjoy them.

Remember the caver’s motto, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time.” Another popular motto is, “Walk softly and leave no trace.” See for more information on cave laws and codes of conduct.


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