Photo By Ann and Peter Bosted

The Elroy and Marilyn Daleo Cave Preserve, one mile east of Mammoth Cave National Park, was established to protect the Daleo Entrance to the Roppel Cave section of Mammoth Cave, the longest known cave on earth. The Daleo Entrance is the only entrance to Mammoth Cave owned and managed by a conservation organization. Situated in a classic karst valley in the Mammoth Cave Plateau, the Preserve protects the Daleo Entrance, as well as several smaller caves and notable karst features.

Within the Preserve, karst features typical of the Mammoth Cave Plateau can be observed. Springs and sinking streams, sinkholes, caprock margin blowholes, and small pits can all be found by those who choose to explore the property. We are confident that there are still caves to discover on the Preserve.

Roppel Cave 

The small cave on the Daleo farm had been known for many years. A spring, that was the water supply for the farm, flowed a short distance into a sinkhole and disappeared under a ledge. The strong, cool breeze attracted many of the locals on hot, summer afternoons, but the passage just inside was too low to follow. In 1980, passages in Roppel Cave were found to come very close to this cave on the Daleo farm. And, in 1981, the low crawl was dug sufficiently to become the second entrance to Roppel Cave. The Daleo Entrance provided easier access to sections of the cave once many hours and hard miles from the original Roppel Entrance. The Daleo Entrance continues to be used for exploration and survey of the northern and eastern reaches of the Roppel Cave section, now surveyed to over 95 miles.

The Daleo Entrance to Roppel Cave is the heart of the Preserve. A short crawl and couple

of climbs quickly lead into the main levels of Roppel Cave, which include some of the most complex and diverse passages found in Mammoth Cave. Streams in Roppel Cave

Photo by Ann and Peter Bosted

flow into two major, overlapping drainage basins: Pike Spring to the north, and Turnhole Spring to the south. Floodwaters frequently bridge these drainage basins creating a baffling array of overflow tubes, seemingly illogical passage intersections, flow reversals, and streams that flow in all directions of the compass.

Passages reached via the Daleo Entrance are typically dry, clean-washed canyons and tubes that can be followed to the south and west into the most complex sections of the cave. Or, the active streams near the entrance can be followed to an extensive network of active stream levels that lead far to the north and to the east.  Most of the principal passages are of walking height with occasional crawls that span up to eight distinct levels. Canyon straddling and some climbing is quite commonly encountered. The classic walking, elliptical tubes made famous by Mammoth Cave can be found in the central sections of Roppel Cave beneath Toohey Ridge.

Roppel Cave is the epitome of a cavers’ cave, and it is a special place.  It is like a jungle gym in some parts and, in others, you can also walk for miles. Or, you can choose to challenge the long crawls and narrow canyons.

We Need Your Help

Help support this acquisition by ‘buying’ a piece of the preserve. Surface plots with cave passage underneath are $100 and without are $50. ‘Buy’ your piece today! CLICK HERE.

Preserve Information

Acreage: 88.446 acres in Hart County Kentucky

Preserve Management Team: Pat Kambesis, Steve Miller, Dick Market, Jim Borden (daleo@scci.org)

Permits: To request a permit, http://permits.scci.org