Spelunking Bloomington Cave
A massive tectonic cave system located just 15 miles outside of St. George, Utah, Bloomington Cave should be on your bucket list if you like to get muddy and twist through the depths of the Earth. Called a fault cave, it’s unique because, unlike many limestone caves, it was not formed by water erosion, but by tectonic movement. However, water has flowed through the system for eons, so stalagmites, stalactites, and more can be seen therein.
Bloomington Cave is the only accessible cave in the St. George region, and you must obtain a free permit from the BLM at least three days prior to your intended visit in order to enjoy this natural wonder. Within the cave, it’s a pleasant 58 degrees year-round — with a high humidity level making it feel even warmer.
It’s worth noting that, like many caves, there are narrow passageways that can require crawling or sliding on one’s belly, and there are steep floors often caked in slimy mud. To say the least, go slowly and know that there are such obstacles — and don’t wear your Sunday’s best, obviously. The BLM says this is an unrated cave, and many cave novices find it to be rather difficult; people with experience might not say that, because it is non-technical. But that’s the fun of caving. You are now a spelunker.
Click on your headlamp and descend into the cave. There is a north and a south entrance, which you choose will depend on your desired routes (see map or contact the BLM office in St. George for more information).
The Bloomington Cave system offers five distinct levels and a maze of passageways. It’s the fifth longest cave in Utah at a surveyed length of 1.39 miles. You can choose from a number of routes, all which are well marked with colored flagging and correspond to the colored route on the cave map. Without this coloring system, it would be near-impossible to navigate the maze-like tunnels.
The most commonly traveled route in Bloomington Cave is the White Route, which leads to the Big Room. From the south entrance, you’ll pass through one room and follow the markers through the Boardwalk. There are steep drop-offs of 60 to 70 feet to the Big Room below, so be careful. Most people take the tighter and safer path called Fanny Flume; another option is with a rappel or handline via a different route. The White Route reaches its terminus in the spacious Big Room. Consult the map for more information, and to find the additional four routes.
Per day, only three parties with up to 10 people are allowed. It’s recommended to bring three independent sources of light, preferably hands-free; also wear a helmet.
Because of the variety of obstacles, challenges, and rewards, Bloomington Cave is a well-rounded spelunking experience for all who enter.
GPS Coordinates: 37°03’34.83″ N 113°44’06.94″ W
Link to Cave Map (PDF)