The Maverick Grotto

The Maverick Grotto

Celebrating 20 years as a Texas caving organization in 2006!  The Maverick Grotto is the local caving club of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Texas. We are dedicated to promoting safe, fun, and environmentally conscious caving.  Our grotto is an internal organization of the National Speleological Society.

The Maverick Grotto is inactive effective November 2009!

Caving Ethics

So you want to go caving?

Caves are a beautiful and unique treasure of nature that deserve our respect, care and protection.  Trips into this underworld paradise can be safe, fun, and leave minimum impact on the cave when visited by a well prepared and responsible caver.  The wondrous world of colorful stone formations, intricate passages and unusual wildlife needs to be protected as well as being recognized for just how fragile an environment a cave is.

What do you need for a caving trip?  

Before entering a cave, be prepared!  First, find a caving club or organization that can provide training and trips designed to introduce the novice to good caving skills.  Learn the basic steps needed to ensure a safe, fun, low impact experience in a cave.  Caving skills consist of common sense and respect for the fragility of a cave.

If you plan on exploring a cave, remember the boy scout motto, be prepared!

We are often asked how expensive it is to be a caver.  Most of the time the answer is not very!  The cost is optional, how much do you want to put into it?  Some equipment is accumulated over time as your interest grows and other equipment is needed from the get go. 

Camping:  Wild caves are usually off the beaten path and require you be prepared for primitive camping.  A tent, warm sleeping bag, cooking gear, food and water are necessities for most caving trips.  This doesn't have to be an expensive proposition unless you just like to have the fanciest equipment available.  Most of the time, you can drive to the camping area so wilderness backpacking gear isn't required.  A few cavers have small trailers but don't expect hookups where you'll be going.

Transportation:  Having a nice off road vehicle is really nice but not required.  Many cavers have successfully traveled to caving locations for years in a family car and never owned a 4wd vehicle.

Caving Gear:  There are a lot of options in caving gear and how much you want to spend.  Below is the basic caving gear necessary to get started:

– Sturdy hard hat with chin strap, no styrofoam cycling helmets!

– Three reliable sources of light including a hard hat mounted light

– Spare batteries for lights and any other battery powered equipment

– Sturdy boots with ankle support that should be comfortable for long periods of time

– Elbow and knee pads - usually obtained from a local sporting goods or hardware store

– Sturdy Cave pack - usually made of some sort of ballistic nylon

– Containers for food and water for an extended visit in a cave

– An Individual First aid kit that will fit in your cave pack

Some Rules for the Road!

1)  Do NOT enter a property unless you have permission to do so.  In this modern world, caving always requires permission unless you own the cave!   Whether it's from a private land owner or a government do so!

2) Caves on Government land usually require permits, contact the appropriate agency for information on how to gain a permit to enter the cave(s).

3)  When visiting a privately owned cave, have a legal sportsman's release disclaimer signed by all if the cave owner requires it.

4)  Cavers and land owners should acquaint themselves with the Texas Sportsman's Law available here.

5)  Access to some caves requires crossing private land.  Ask permission for the privilege to cross.  Leave fence gates the way you found them (unless told otherwise).  Avoid disturbing livestock, leave private buildings alone and stay on established roads.  If you notice signs of vandalism, notify the landowners or land management agency as soon as possible.

6)  Always follow the rules established by the landowner, be it government or private land!

7)  If you discover prehistoric, cultural or Paleolithic remains, take nothing but pictures and move nothing.  Don't touch!  Touching or picking up can destroy the artifact.  Collecting is strictly prohibited by law.

8)  Start your caving experience with an experienced Caver(s) until you become an experienced caver yourself!

9)  Take responsibility for yourself, landowners and your fellow cavers didn't take you to raise!  If you sign a liability release, honor it!

10)  Know your own limitations!  If you don't feel comfortable doing it, don't!

11)  Tell three people where you are going caving and when you expect to be back and be sure to let them know when you return!

12)  Cave with at least three people.  A perfect size group is four to six people.  Over six, the group becomes hard to manage, making movement through the cave slow and increases the risk of damage.

13)  Be aware that every cave is unique with it's own special conditions and hazards.  Some conditions may include but are not limited to:  flash floods, cold temperatures, vertical drops, bad air and and airborne diseases.

14)  Inspect your gear to ensure proper operation before entering the cave.

15)  Avoid touching, walking or climbing on any cave formation.  Disturbance will destroy the beauty of the formations forever.  Even with today's restoration techniques, a damaged formation will never be the same once damaged.

16)  Bring enough food and water for an unexpected stay in the cave.

17)  If there are established trails, stay on them.  Avoid trampling areas and impacting the cave environment.  Respect closed areas.  They are closed for a reason!

18)  Do not mark on the walls of a cave...for any reason!  Permanently marking or defacing cave walls and formations is strictly prohibited by law and can land you in jail!

19)  Avoid becoming lost; pay attention to your route and the way out.  Use temporary flagging if you are unfamiliar with the cave or if it is your first cave trip to the cave even though you have a map.  Remove any flagging on your way out.

20)  The trip leader needs to be aware of each member's fitness level and caving experience.

21)  If a group member is not prepared for a cave planned on, the trip leader needs to choose an alternate cave or recommend the person wait until they have the necessary skills.

22)  If the group isn't prepared for self rescue, stay close to the cave entrance.  it can take 24 to 48 hours to assemble a rescue team.  Cave rescues are not easy and can require days to remove an injured caver.  Cave rescues are also extremely expensive!  Not to mention the damage they can cause to the cave.

23)  In your cave pack, have an individual first aid kit that includes band-aids, first aid cream or a triple antibiotic ointment, roll of black electrical tape and alcohol wipes.

24)  Have and use a container/packaging for all human waste.  The rule goes, pack it in, pack it out!

25)  If you do use carbide, remember it is poisonous, so pack out all spent carbide.  Be especially careful when changing carbide to not spill it out in the cave.

26)  When eating in a cave, be careful not to leave crumbs.  Never leave food scrapes so animals begin to associate food with human presence.  This is valid in your camp site also.

27)  Do not use rope or gear of others who may be visiting the cave at the same time.

28)  If a passage is to fragile, turn back.

29)  Enjoy your caving adventure by taking nothing but pictures, leaving only foot prints and killing nothing but time!

Entrance to many caves requires a permit.  Failure to have the appropriate permit and following the permit's conditions for visiting the cave can result in fines or even jail time.  Learn and respect regulations regarding caves and always.......cave softly!

This page last updated September 15, 2012