A non-profit, volunteer organization dedicated to the discovery, exploration, and conservation of caves and karst in the midwestern United States.

Kansas City Area Grotto

COVID-19 Update

Due to the restrictions on non-essential activities in the Kansas City area, Grotto meetings will be held online using Zoom until further notice. Instructions will be sent to the mailing list.

To join the May 2020 meeting, use this link: (to be announced) .

Exploring The Unknown

The Kansas City Area Grotto is involved in the exploration and survey of cave systems throughout the state of Missouri, and occasionally beyond state borders. Our members create many new cave maps each year, giving both private landowners and governmental agencies new insight into their subterranean resources while permanently documenting these natural treasures.

Discovering Wild Places

Each year, grotto members spend weeks caving in remote karst areas in central and southern Missouri as well as northern Arkansas. Whether discovering new caves, managing and documenting known caves, or locating historically known but now lost caverns, our members are no strangers to backpacking, canoeing, primitive camping, and wilderness hiking, both on- and off-trail.

Photo by Cyle Riggs

Missouri Ozarks; Photo by Cyle Riggs

Reaching New Depths

While it can be hard work, caving is immensely rewarding. Every trip is an adventure, every experience unique. Cavers must continuously overcome challenges, learn new skills, and solve problems, all in the interest of achieving a project’s goals.

Ennis Cave Entrance; Photo by Unknown

Capturing Beauty

The beauty of America’s spelean wonders will never be enjoyed by most people ... unless it is photographed. Grotto photography projects aim to bring these stunning images to the non-caving public, while providing a permanent documentary record of our karst resources for the generations to come. Underground photography uses specialized equipment, employs a variety of techniques, and demands a unique kind of expertise.

Photo Credit: Rick Hines

Cave Crystals; Photo by Rick Hines

Unlocking Mysteries

Caves are more than dark, muddy holes. Grotto research projects help further the science behind the strange and complex phenomena found underground.

Photo by Rick Hines

Alien Hand Formation; Photo by Rick Hines

Restoring Nature

Vandalism, littering, and even casual carelessness and disrespect damage many wild cave environments. While these violations take only seconds to occur, they can take years of hard work to undo, or centuries for nature to repair. Grotto restoration projects find us working hard to restore spelean treasures to as close to their pristine state as possible.

Graffiti Removal; Photo by Unknown


Wild caves provide a great laboratory for teaching the public about geology, biology, and especially conservation, being an perfect venue for cultivating a “wilderness ethic.” Each year, the Kansas City Area Grotto guides Boy Scout, school and church groups as well as other civic organizations on underground adventures. We also present Powerpoint lectures about a variety of cave-related topics.

Photo by Rick Hines

Kids Caving; Photo by Rick Hines