About the DC Grotto

What is the DC Grotto?

three caversThe District of Columbia Grotto (DCG) is the local chapter of the National Speleological Society (NSS). Organized caving began in Washington DC in 1939 and we consider our grotto to be the oldest caving organization in the United States.
We bring unique people together to explore caves in the region. The Grotto promotes cave exploration, project caving, new cave discovery and conservation. We take pride in transforming new cavers into experienced leaders.

What does DCG do?

 The DC Grotto makes your social media accounts incredible. We know, ours are extraordinary, unbelievable, and astonishing. Actual comments from normal people. Well, not normal to us but normal to you!

Sport trips

group of cavers Sport trips are 3-6-hour adventures underground. These trips explore well known or well-traveled caves. An experienced caver will lead these trips. Typically, you will travel with 6 to 12 other cavers. A sport trip will be your first trip with the Grotto. These are the best way to appreciate the caving experience and expose yourself to Grotto life. Normally, lots of walking passage, some tight squeezes, mud, wet feet, and more mud.

Project Trips

As you develop into an experienced caver, your curiosity in project caving will be overwhelming. Project caving can be several things: conservation (Cleaning graffiti or trash) mapping/surveying, digging to discovery virgin passage or connecting existing cave systems together. Project caving will expose you to the vast community of cavers that exist in the country sometimes internationally.

Vertical Caving

on rope As your caving obsession intensifies, vertical rope work will become attractive - if not a necessity. Many caves consist of pits or vertical drops. Some are simple 20-foot nuisance drops, others are hundreds of feet deep. Knowledge is passed from one caver to the next. Many opportunities for vertical training exist. The high angle techniques are very specific to caving and shared amongst our most cherished members.

Major Exploration

Would you like to spend two weeks underground? Would you like to explore one mile under the Earth’s surface? While DC Grotto does not host these advanced trips – We know who does! We know who and how to get on a Discovery Channel documentary. Just sayin!

Who are the members?

Every type of person that exist in America! Our members are therapists, geologists, fire fighters, PHD’s, pizza delivery people and the unemployed. The unemployed are the hardcore cavers. Trust me -- you will fit in!

Grotto Meetings

The Grotto meets each month on the third Sunday of the month. You do not need to join to attend a meeting. Meetings are a great way to meet members and gain a better understanding of the Grotto. We meet at a local bar/restaurant. The Grotto has a 40-year history in Montgomery County and currently meet in the Silver Spring/Bethesda area. Guests are always welcome at meetings.

How do I join?

We don't have any entrance requirements except a commitment to safe caving and cave conservation.  You do not have to be a member of the National Speleological Society to join the DC Grotto (although there are many benefits to NSS membership).

Your best option is to come to the next meeting, meet some of the local cavers and sign up. If you can't wait, membership information is available on-line.

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Page last updated or verified on October 1, 2023