Skylight Cave

By Jeremy Patton

Skylight Cave is located in Bell County, Kentucky.


I will not reveal cave locations because they are frequent targets of vandalism. Furthermore, heavy human traffic destroys their fragile ecosystems.

Note: I first visited Skylight Cave in perhaps 2005 or later. That was when I took some of the following photos. Signs in the area now state that the cave is temporarily closed due to White Nose Syndrome, a fungal infection that kills bats. When I visit unrestricted caves, I wipe down my shoes and equipment with a bleach solution to prevent spreading the disease from one cave to another.

Skylight Cave is aptly named because a skylight shines above the main entrance. The entrance opens into a large cavern that soon tapers into a crawlway. The first time I visited this cave, I did not have knee or elbow pads and was not in a mood for tight spaces, so I only explored the cavern.




The cavern was dry, while the crawlway was slick with mud. Water must flow through it during wet weather. I did not see evidence of standing pools or debris in the cavern, which made me wonder where the water went.


Soda straws in progress


Some imbeciles carved their stupid names into the walls, but I found no rubbish inside, nor did I see trash on the trail. This surprised me. I guess few people visit this cave because it is difficult to access. It resides about halfway up a 3000-foot mountain, so either way you try to reach it, you must work hard. This weeds out most of the tourists.

To the left of the main entrance, I found a gated crawl-hole, which made me curious as to why it was off-limits. By the looks of it, I was not sure if I wanted to attempt it anyway. I discovered a third cave in the vicinity that was also gated, a larger and more inviting tunnel. I plan to inquire about the gate and see if I can gain legal access. I suspect that all three caves are part of the same karst system.

Small crawl-hole

Small crawl-hole

Gated tunnel

Gated tunnel

I have a feeling that there are many more caves in the area, but they will be off-trail and even harder to reach.

Added 10/15/16