You have questions, we have answers.

Understanding the many aspects of cave exploration, recreation, and the groups we are associated with is part of our mission. The concept of crawling around in a hole under the ground might seem weird to some, but understanding the world below your feet is the main purpose and reason behind what we do.

A grotto (Italian grotta and French grotte) is a natural or artificial cave used by humans in both modern times and antiquity, and historically or prehistorically (WikiPedia). In the caving world, a grotto is simply a group of like-minded individuals who have a passion for exploring, researching, and protecting caves as well as learning and teaching safe caving techniques and conservation of our outdoor spaces. We have meetings, we abide by a constitution, we elect members, we collaborate with other grottos, and we have lots of fun together. If you really want to know what we do, come to a meeting!

Speleology is the scientific study of caves, and spelunking is the recreational act of exploring wild cave systems. Spelunkers and Cavers typically differ in the seriousness and expertise of the person spelunking. In general, spelunkers are the people that "cavers" have to rescue from caves. A caver has a serious passion for exploring and studying caves and you should never, under any circumstances refer to them as a "spelunker".

Sorry, but in order to protect both the caves and the landowners, we do not publish or provide information about the locations of caves. We would love to have you join us on a trip sometime, but we do not make the locations of caves public information.

To learn more, check out this article, "Why we don't share cave locations" by Chuck Sutherland.

Any kind of physical activity has its inherit risks, and caving is no exception. The best way to never get hurt caving is to stay out of a cave. But if you want to have a sense of adventure, sometimes you have to take risks. Caving can seem more dangerous than other activities since its mostly in the dark and often in small places, but with the right gear, proper instruction, and responsible habits you can reduce your risk of injury considerably. To learn more about responsible caving, check out the NSS (National Speleological Society) guide to Responsible Caving (PDF).

NO! Bats are amazing little creatures and one of the most misunderstood and mistreated animals around. You are in fact 1000x more of a threat to a bat than they are to you. Remember: when you go into a cave, you are in their home and you should respect that. If you see a bat, leave it alone, don't shine your light on it and keep moving. They will never bother you unless you bother them.

To learn more, check out Bat Conservation International and their list of popular myths about bats.

You can start by sending us a message on our contact form, or come see us in person at a meeting on the 1st Thursday of each month at 7pm at REI in Brentwood, TN.

Once you have applied for membership and your application is approved, all you have to do is pay your dues and you are a member!

Learn more on our membership page!

The Nashville Grotto of the NSS meets at the REI in Brentwood, TN on the 1st Thursday of each month at 7pm. See you there!

REI Brentwood
261 Franklin Rd
Brentwood, Tennessee
Get Directions

During the winter months, we average about a trip a month, sometimes more depending on the weather. But typically we have some kind of event or meeting going on every weekend, every month.

Yes! But you will need to come with an active member so we know you are coming and someone can vouch for you. Our trips are not open or visible to the public and we require wavers and permits (if applicable) to be signed, so we do not allow people to show up without first knowing beforehand.

Sure you can! We are a 501(c)(3) organization and all donations are tax deductible. You can donate money, gear, facilities, or any other thing you think might benefit our organization.

To donate, just send us a message!

No, membership I the NSS is not required, but it is highly encouraged. Membership in the NSS is around $50 per year and well worth it for the publications alone. You also have access to NSS events, parties, and other things not available to non-members.

Click here to become an NSS member

The NSS (National Speleological Society) has published a great guidebook for the new caver and lays out pretty much everything you need to know to get started.

NSS Guide to Responsible Caving (PDF)

Probably not. Landowners have to put up with a lot of people coming on their property, vandalism, litter and other things most people don't want to deal with. You should respect these signs if you have not already received permission from the landowner. This can lead to arrest or even worse, so it is best to find out who owns the cave first, or ask around to any neighbors or houses near the property. Do not go into a cave after someone has specifically told you not to. And never trespass on state owned properties or areas that require permits. This can lead to serious fines and/or jail time if you are caught in a state owned caved without proper permissions.

Absolutely not! Our Grotto members range from age 8 to age 80+ and we welcome anyone of any age to try out caving. Of course, not all trips are recommended for everyone but we always let our members know what to expect on a trip and any special skills or physical abilities needed. Our trips range from vertical pit descents and extreme horizontal to causal strolls through large caverns.

Not necessarily. Our trips range from extreme to very casual and our members come in all different sizes and abilities. We encourage you to push yourself but also know your limits and join the appropriate trips for your skill level.

The yellow bat sticker you might see on the back of a vehicle or someone's helmet is a sort of "badge of the caver". Not all cavers have this bat sticker on their vehicles, but only cavers have this bat sticker on their vehicles. The history of the sticker is that it was designed by the late Earl Biffle of the Middle Mississippi Valley Grotto as a letterhead for the MMV. The grotto rejected it but that didn't stop Earl from printing his own stickers and selling them to benefit bat conservation and studies.

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