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4 places to go caving

The alternative active winter getaway for fit bodies

Winter usually means carving tracks in the fresh powder or escaping to beaches. But this season, athletes are getting an adrenaline rush via exploring caves filled with epic stalagmites (rock formations) and stalactites (formations composed of lava, mud, or other materials). The best and most accessible option is via commercial caving, areas that are generally designated and protected by local or federal governments. “The range of difficulty can be as much as the difference between a stroll in the park and climbing Everest,” says Anmar Mirza, coordinator for The National Speological Society’s Cave Rescue Commission.

Here, four places to try it.

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  • Alberta, Canada

    Alberta, Canada

    Canmore Cave Tours will take you below the mountains into Rat’s Nest Cave where you will rappel and explore rock formations. Try the solitude experience, which will bring you and a partner or a small group below ground for six hours (including a one-hour descent and a one-hour climb out). Expect to be strapped onto a rope with a harness and given a helmet and head lamp. 

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  • Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Chattanooga, Tennessee

    Ideal for novices, a visit to Lookout Mountain only requires lanterns (no ropes or harnesses) to guide you below the surface. An elevator takes you 260 feet down and it's a half-mile walk from there to an underground waterfall. 

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  • Saint Thomas, Barbados

    Saint Thomas, Barbados

    While Barbados is known for its beaches on the Caribbean side of the island and a growing surfing enclave on the Atlantic, it has one of the most interesting caves with routes of varying degrees of difficulty. Strap on gear for the three-and-a-half-hour climb along the walls of Harrison’s Cave, exploring the emerald waters of the sea along with tropical flora and fauna. 

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  • Vail, Colorado

    Vail, Colorado

    For a high-end version of caving, book a tour with guides from the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek. After exploring local snow caves in the scenic Vail Pass backcountry, they’ll provide beer and wine, upscale cuisine, and fur blankets to sit by controlled fires. 

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