Fourth Largest Cave In The World Discovered In Iran

The fourth largest cave on the planet, Ghar-e-Dosar, as seen on Google EarthA team of Iranian spelunkers exploring an underground cave system near Mehriz, Yazd have made a surprising discovery. Last year, the group of cavers stumbled across a massive underground chamber and after taking careful and exact measurements of its size, the cave is now confirmed to be the fourth largest in the world.

This new cavern is part of the Ghar-e-Dosar cave system located in central Iran, which has been known about for some time and is a popular destination for cavers in the region. The system hasn’t been completely mapped however so new aspects of it are still being discovered. Last February a team of eight entered the largest chamber there and set about taking precise measurements of its total expanse. Those numbers have all been crunched now and what they found is simply amazing.

The subterranean room measures 1263 feet across and 869 feet wide, covering roughly the equivalent of 20 acres. The cavern slopes downward over its length starting with a height of about 230 feet and plunging as low as 469 feet at its deepest point. Those dimensions are large enough to put it above Majlis al Jinn cavern in Oman and slightly behind the Torca del Carlista in Spain on the list of the world’s largest cave rooms.

It should be noted that this chamber ranks as the fourth largest in terms of size for a single cavern. Ghar-e-Dosar isn’t nearly as large as Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky, however, which doesn’t have a single chamber that compares in size but does stretch for more than 400 miles of underground passageways.

Thanks to our friends at the Adventure Journal for sharing this story.

[Photo Credit: Iran Speleo]

Mammoth Cave Surpasses 400 Miles In Length

Mammoth Cave is the largest cave system in the worldThe National Park Service has announced that the official length of Mammoth Cave now surpasses 400 miles as ten miles of newly mapped chambers and passageways were recently added to the cave complex. Park officials say that these additional miles were the result of a series of smaller, more incremental finds, and were not the result of a single major discovery. Exploration and mapping of these new areas were conducted in partnership with the Cave Research Foundation.

Carved out of the central Kentucky limestone, Mammoth Cave was already the longest cave system in the world prior to the addition of these new discoveries. In fact, it is so large that it is more than twice the size of the next longest cave. Mammoth’s massive underground complex attracts thousands of visitors on a yearly basis ranging from curious travelers to full-fledged explorers and spelunkers. Some of its more famous locations even have names, such as the massive Grand Avenue and the aptly named Fat Man’s Misery.

The Park Service conducts daily tours of Mammoth lasting anywhere from one to six hours in length. Some of those tours are along relatively easy-guided paths while others venture far into the darkness to decidedly more challenging and cramped places. The popular Grand Avenue tour for instance is a 4-mile, four-hour trek that is physically demanding, while the hike to the beautiful Frozen Niagara is a much easier quarter-mile walk that is safe enough for both children and older visitors. Both provide fantastic views of the interior of the cave that simply must be seen to be believed.

If you’re looking for a destination for an upcoming trip to a national park this summer, Mammoth Cave National Park is one of those places that will delight and amaze the entire family.

[Photo Credit: The National Park Service]

National Park Service invites you to Cumberland Gap this weekend

Now that spring is officially here, the National Park Service is beginning to welcome visitors back to their most popular and scenic locations. Take for example Cumberland Gap National Historic Park, which stretches across parts of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. This weekend, Cumberland Gap will play host to a series of great events, with something to offer the entire family.

The festivities get underway on Saturday, when visitors will have the opportunity to meet legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone himself. Boone will be on hand beginning at 10 AM to regale young and old alike with tales of his daring adventures inside the Cumberland Gap, which he helped explore. His daring exploits eventually cleared the way for westward expansion by early American pioneers. Daniel will be in the park’s visitor center throughout the day, with his famous flintlock rifle close at hand.

On Sunday it’s movie day in the park, with a special screening of a Kentucky Life special that will take viewers to the top of the Cumberland Gap and then descend into the depths of Mammoth Cave. The film will also highlight the important role that Kentucky played in the early development of America, opening the way for settlers to travel west. The screening begins at 2 PM in the visitor center auditorium, with traditional movie snacks on hand for the show.

Perhaps the best activity is reserved for Monday however, when park rangers will take visitors on a guided moonlight hike through the Cumberland Gap itself. The route is specially planned out so that hikers will arrive at the saddle of the Gap just as the moon rises above the surrounding mountains. If you want to take part in the 1.2 mile round trip hike, simply be at the Thomas Walker parking area at 8 PM, and be sure to bring your hiking shoes.

I’m sure these will be just the first of many great activities in Cumberland National Park in the months ahead, but why not make a weekend out of it, and try to take in all three options? The moonlight hike sounds especially promising.

Photo of the Day (10.31.09)

Believe it or not, our Photo of the Day was taken in Kentucky — at Mammoth Caves, to be exact. As Gadling photographer Peter Rivera explains, “A blast of arctic air flows up from the blackness. you go down concrete steps, lower and lower until the sunny August trees are left behind…” Peter aptly named this photo “descending into the abyss,” and for those of you intrepid travelers who are venturing into the cool Halloween evening, I hope you come back from the abyss safely!

If you have some great travel shots you’d like to share, be sure to upload them to the Gadling pool on Flickr. We might just pick one as our Photo of the Day!

Free tours of Mammoth Cave this Saturday

In honor of National Public Lands Day, the Park Service has announced that it is offering free tours of Mammoth Cave this Saturday, September 26th.

Located in central Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is part of the largest cave system in the world, All told, there are more than 365 miles of twisting passageways that make up the system, with multiple tours available that range in length anywhere from one to six hours in length.

The free tour his weekend is called the Mammoth Passage Tour, and will last roughly an hour and a half, while trekking through about 3/4 of a mile in the cave. To take advantage of this opportunity, you’ll need to stop by the visitor’s center to pick up your tickets. Tours will depart from that location starting at 9:30 AM, with new tours starting every hour until 4:30 PM Central Time.

This is a great opportunity to see an amazing place that is not only a part of the U.S. National Park Service, but is also a World Heritage Site. Mammoth Cave is well known for its striking beauty and massive size, and this is a fantastic chance for anyone to explore it. But with free tours all day on Saturday, it is likely to be very busy. Get there early and grab your tickets while you can.