Bloomington Cave has been known since the turn of the century with the establishment of St. George. With the city growing only miles away, this well-known cave is facing increasing vandalization. In the mid-1950s, the Utah Dixie Grotto actually dynamited the cave’s entrances shut because they believed the cave was too dangerous. The cave was quickly dug open. Spray-painted graffiti littered the walls of the heavily traveled routes. In 2005, as a large volunteer effort, large amounts of the graffiti was removed through sand blasting. In July 2009, the cave entrances’ gates were completed and access was placed under a free permit system. The cave receives about 1,000 visitors/year with spring break being the heavily visitation time. See a HD YouTube video of the cave at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m77dEbdeXCY .
The Beaver Dam Mountains, which sit in the southwest corner of Washington County, Utah, are made up primarily of Permian Age limestone, which makes for great rock climbing, and sometimes, provides the foundation for spectacular cave systems. Located on the east side of the Beaver Dam Mountains, is the Bloomington Cave–the only cave in the St. George Field Office area that is open for public access. It can be found approximately 15 miles west of the City of St. George (see Directions).
Bloomington Cave is the fifth largest cave in Utah, at a length of 1.30 miles and a depth of 240 ft. Larger caves in Utah include Little Brush Creek Cave(5.93 miles), Big Brush Creek Cave(4.92 miles), Duck Creek Lave Tube (2.28 miles), and Main Drain Cave (1.47 miles), Bloomington Cave still contains many unmapped passages. Several thousand feet remain to be surveyed.
Bloomington Cave is a fault cave. The cave trends north and south with a western plunge of about 40 degrees. This plunge allows the cave to be descended to its maximum depth without ropes. The cave is three-dimensional fracture maze. The cave’s floor consists of large steps that are pinched off by a consistently sloping ceiling. Many of the walls turn up to be low connecting passages. At many locations the walls are indefinable. And many passages overlie each other. Many of the passages appear as if they were carbon copied at hundred of locations throughout the cave. The cave is truly a mapping nightmare!
Bloomington Cave is the most extensive and well-known cave in the St. George Field Office. It is a large tectonic cave, and has at least six distinct levels and a maze of passages that are generally narrow, often with steeply dipping floors. The surveyed length of the cave is currently 1.35 miles (7,136 feet), making it the sixth longest cave in Utah. In 1994, this cave was listed as a significant cave on federal lands, under the authority and mandate of the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (FCRPA) of 1988.
This cave’s difficulty level is currently unrated. However, many users who are not experienced cavers have found the cave much more difficult than expected. Bloomington Cave requires crawling, squeezing through tight passages, climbing, and moving on slippery surfaces. Five routes are marked within the cave. View the Cave Routes page to see these routes and to read a description of their challenges.
Anyone wishing to enter Bloomington Cave must have a permit. The permit is free and available from the St. George Field Office. To find out how to obtain a permit – click here.
Know Before You Go
January 18, 2011