Organ Cave: Finally Got the Bat Picture

Posted on March 28, 2010. Filed under: Environmental Issues, History, Nature, Travel |

Hibernating Bat in Organ Cave    Organ Cave Hopper used by Confederate Soldiers  
Hibernating Bat, Organ Cave   Hopper Used by Confederate Soldiers

Click for Organ Cave’s web site

Saturday Chris and I drove to Organ Cave, West Virginia to take the Organ Cave Tour. It was well worth the trip. (Organ Cave is about a four-hour drive from northern Virginia.)

Chris and I have been touring many, many caverns in Virginia and West Virginia over the last couple of years. We found Organ Cave most memorable for its history, fossils, naturalized state, wildlife, and extended tours.

We prefer more natural caves over the showy, commericialized caverns. Organ Cave has lights reminiscent of old-style lanterns so you get a feeling of how people visited and interacted in the cave in times past.

The cave is unusual in its many hoppers which soldiers left behind after the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The soldiers refined saltpeter with these hoppers. Saltpeter is derived from bat guano found in the caverns.

Many fossils have been discovered at Organ Cave. Most famous is the giant three-toed sloth, the remains of which were sent to Thomas Jefferson. Also the remains of a sabre-tooth cat, nine-banded armadillo, reindeer, and other prehistoric animals have been found.

We finally obtained our elusive bat picture. We have seen plenty of hibernating bats at Endless Caverns (New Market, VA) and Dixie Caverns (Salem, VA) but have not gotten good photos of them yet. The bats hibernate in caves in Virginia from November through April. During the spring and fall, they may go into the caves to sleep during the daytime. During the summer they tend to sleep outside of the caves.

Organ Cave also has many extended tours where you can do “real” hiking and caving to explore deeper parts of the caverns. The tours that we are going to go back for seem to range around $50 per person. Also they have an “undernighter” where you can even sleep in the cave overnight!

Our tour guide and the people running the gift shop were very knowledgeable and obviously enthusiastic about Organ Cave.

We recommend a visit to Organ Cave. There are also many other attractions in the area, so it is worth an overnight trip to allow time to explore everything.

Photos copyright 2010 Organ Cave, Inc.

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5 Responses to “Organ Cave: Finally Got the Bat Picture”

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That’s great! Persistence pays off.

What are conditions like inside the caves? Is it warm? or cold? Were there many bats there?

Hi Bob. The caverns in Virginia tend to stay at about 55 degrees year round in their innermost rooms. Toward the openings near the ground, they are warmer or cooler depending on the time of year. There were more than a few bats at Organ Cave. We have seen the greatest number of bats at Endless Caverns — I’m going to blog about Endless tonight if the photos are good. Organ Cave also has large cave crickets.

Great bat picture Jean!

There is a spring of water called Dream Lake that has an almost mirror like appearance. Stalactites are reflected in the water making them appear to be stalagmites . This illusion is often so convincing that people are unable to see the real bottom. It looks quite deep, as the stalactites are higher above the water, but at its deepest point the water is only around 20 inches deep. The lake is connected to a spring that continues deeper into the caverns. The Wishing Well is a green pond with coins three feet deep at the bottom. Like Dream Lake, the well also gives an illusion, however it is reversed. The pond looks 3–4 feet deep but at its deepest point it is actually 6–7 feet deep.

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