Establishing Marked Routes
A sign containing a map and the following information has been placed outside of the cave; however, this page is available for pre-trip planning and posting the most up-to-date route information.
To raise the appreciation of
the cave resources and reduce the need for graffiti and stringing within the
maze of passages within
The marked routes correspond
to the updated map of the cave. The map of
Original display at Bloomington Cave
Flagged routes have been set
to help navigate the labyrinth of passages within
Be prepared! (1) Always wear
a helmet, either a fancy climbing helmet or at least a construction helmet to
protect your head. Most of the serious injuries are from falls. Without
helmets, these falls become fatalities! (2) Always have at least one nice
helmet-mounted light. Most all of these routes require climbing; you need
both of your hands free. (3) Always carry at least 3 reliable light sources.
Candles, matches and lighters are not considered reliable light sources. The
farther in you go, the less likely you could make it out safely without
light. (4) Wear appropriate footwear. Most people don't climb well in gym
shoes. Ankle support is strongly recommended to help protect and support your
ankles during abusive travel. (5) And in case things go wrong, like flat
tires or getting lost, inform dependable folks where you are, where you
expect to be in the cave, and your expected return times. Most cell phones
work out at
If you are with an organized group, you should seek your organization's safety requirements to be sure you are covered under their insurance. Understand if you are leading a group, you are responsible for the group! You must provide adequate information, training, and equipment to ensure a safe, fun trip. If not, you could be heavily sued!
For Boy Scout Troop Leaders, Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has caving policies and caving requirements. BSA's policy states that all scouts must be 14 years of age or older, trips should have 2 adult leaders with one being experienced in cave exploration, groups should be less than 10 people, must have equipment be up to today's caver standards, and that all caving trips require an approved tour permit. If the group doesn't have a tour permit, they are not covered by BSA's insurance!
Along with your safety, please help protect the cave. Many hours have been spent restoring the cave by removing graffiti and trash from the cave.
All caves on federal lands
are protected under the Federal Cave Resources
Protection Act. Defacing caves through spray painting, leaving
trash, or collecting mineral or biological samples is illegal! Overnight
camping, firearms, and campfires are prohibited in this cave. If you
Please report any violations or suspected activity by immediately calling the Law Enforcement Hotline (800) 227-7286
To maintain the open access
The white flagged route leads to the bottom of the Big Room. This route is the most commonly used path through the cave.
The route starts at the South
Entrance and goes straight to the Boardwalk where the cave register is found.
After leaving the room just below the Boardwalk, the top of the Big Room
(White #6) is entered. The high-angle slope drops about 70 ft to 100 ft to
the bottom of the cave. After crossing the top of the Big Room, the route is
marked going down the safer, but tighter, Fanny Flume (White #8-10), rather
than the obvious and heavily used route leading straight down the
well-exposed Big Room. To go directly down the Big Room a 100-ft handline or
rappel is recommended. If going down the Fanny Flume, a short 50-ft handline
and good teamwork is recommended. The
This route is the easiest entrance to entrance route. One should have climbing experience and no fear of tight spots.
This green flagged route starts by traversing the Boardwalk continuing straight past the White #3, until the start of the green flagging (Green #20) is reached. Quickly, the most difficult point along this route is reached. The "Slot" (White #19-18) is a tight 10-inch vertical crack that drops about 10 ft to a crawl below. The Slot is easier to navigate going down than up.
The Slot can be easily bypassed by taking the long flat wide crawl (Left of Green #19) then heading down a hidden climb to pop out at the Lunch Room Junction (Green #13).
Continuing along the normal route, another downclimb (Green #17-16) is reached. This climb is a bit exposed and slippery. The climb is easily negotiated by traversing along the ledge in the middle and then down. Climbing straight down leads to a long reach to a slippery point. This climb can be bypassed by continuing along the crawl at the top of the climb (Green #19) into the Lunch Room (Green #13).
After the climbdown (Green
#16), the Lunch Room can be reached following the flagging by crawling
through a small crack (Green #15-14). The flagging in the middle of the room
(Green #13) is the junction with the
The route continues across the room working its way up through the cracks. Follow the flagging carefully for there are lots of tight cracks leading nowhere to be sucked into. After going through a tight 12-inch crack the route leads into a room. From this room the route continues up through a spiraling stoop way (Green #9-6). Crawling along the flat bedrock floor, you should start feeling the cold entrance air coming in. One can continue along this crawl (Green #6-5) all the way to the North Entrance (Green #0); however, the flagged route winds its way following the easiest path.
Boundary Route - Big Room to Outer Limits
This route is the longer entrance to entrance route. The route has lots of crawling and a bit of interesting climbing. This route uses both the White and the Green routes to make the loop so one should be familiar with these two routes before trying this route. This route is the most committing with the highest chance of getting seriously lost.
The pink flagging starts by traversing the flat bottom of the Big Room (White #11) to the north. This passage will quickly turn into a crawl and the pink flagging (Pink #1) will begin. The route will follow a long series of small traverses and climbs. Use caution, since the flagging can be a bit hard to follow through this highly-mazy section of the cave. When successfully followed, you will pop out into the long low Raceway passage (Pink #18-20).
The end of this passage
continues up and up. A crack in the floor allows visitors in the Lunch Room
to be heard below. From Pink #23 a short-tight 10-inch pitch leads into Lunch
Room Junction (Green #13) and the
Continuing up following the flagging on the normal route, the Hub (Green #6) is reached and the green route can be followed south to the North Entrance (Green #0).
The Miseries - Lunch Room to Big Room
This route connects the Lunch Room to the bottom of the Big Room. The route has slippery traverses on high-angled slopes with respectable exposure. The odds of slipping are higher than the Big Room, but the results would be a fast out-of-control slide, rather than Big Room's straight-out fall. The route starting near the Lunch Room is very mazy; use caution not to lose the flagged route.
The route starts from Green #16 where the orange flagging leads down the easiest route down into the lower room. The route then zigzags through the room's boulder field and then starts a steep descent into the cave. The first climb has a handline that other explorers left behind; however, the flagging shows an easier way to chimney down by using the ceiling and the floor to avoid the spacious short drop.
The route continues down with some interesting high pitching passages to follow. Good shoes will show their benefits through here. This type of traversing and climbing continues to keep you in the easier wider passages until a real bottom is reached. At the end of the route, you easily walk into the bottom of the Big Room (White #11.) Follow the white route to the South Entrance (White #0).
Northern Exposure - Lunch Room to Crystal King Hall
This route goes into the
northern section of the cave. It is fairly easy with only a few sections of
steep easily-navigated slopes. The route can be reached from the
Follow the flagging or take the direct climb down to next room (Yellow #7). After leaving this room, traverse the large sloping passage to a stoopway. Scramble up through the breakdown to the base of a long slope. At the top of the slope (Yellow #14), a horizontal passageway is reached. Staying on this level, the passage is quickly traversed back to Yellow #4.
Once back at Yellow #4, the
route can be followed to the intersection of the
Bloomington Cave Map with Routes (455 KB)
Copyright © 2008 Jon Jasper
Maintained by Jon Jasper - last updated June 19, 2008