Why are there no entries for caves in the Geographic Names Information System Database?

Geographic Names Informations System (GNIS) entries for caves are in the database but cannot be retrieved on the public website. In response to the 1988 National Cave Management Resources Act, Department of the Interior Regulation 43 (CFR Subtitle A, Part 37) forbids the release of information regarding the location of all caves on Federal lands.

Currently, the GNIS database is not able to distinguish between caves on Federal lands and caves that are not on Federal lands, so no features classified as “cave” can be retrieved on the GNIS database website. 

Information regarding the location of caves in GNIS can be requested in writing from the office of the Secretary of the Interior. Each request will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. Mail requests to: 

U.S. Department of the Interior, Secretary of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, D.C.  20240

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Can you feel an earthquake if you're in a cave? Is it safer to be in a cave during an earthquake?

There is nothing different about a cave that would make it immune to the shaking from an earthquake. Just as there are safer and less safe places to be on the surface of the earth during an earthquake, there are also various characteristics inside caves that make some cave locations safer or less safe than others. First of all, whether or not you...

What is the difference between "mountain", "hill", and "peak"; "lake" and "pond"; or "river" and "creek?"

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How can I acquire or download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data?

Download Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) data using the U.S. Board on Geographic Names website . Query the database for official geographic feature names, their location attributes, variant names, and other data. Display, print, and download up to 2,000 records from a query. GNIS data can also be downloaded via The National Map...

What is the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS)?

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What should cavers know and do in regard to White-nose Syndrome?

In response to White-nose Syndrome (WNS), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and individual states request that cavers observe all cave closures and advisories, and avoid caves, mines or passages containing hibernating bats to minimize disturbance to them. The Service asks that cavers and cave visitors stay out of all caves in the affected states...

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Bats hibernating in cave
December 31, 2017

Bats hibernating in cave

Bats hibernating in a cave. 

Attribution: Ecosystems
Image: Natural Entrance at Carlsbad Caverns
November 25, 2014

Natural Entrance at Carlsbad Caverns

The natural entrance of Carlsbad Caverns.

August 30, 2007

PubTalk 8/2007 — Dark Holes in Muir's "Range of Light"

Insights from southern Sierra Nevada caves and karst

By John C. Tinsley, Geologist

  • Water long ago carved many caves in carbonate rocks of the Sierra Nevada
  • As the Sierra (John Muir's "Range of Light") was uplifted, successively deeper caves were drained and decorated during the past 5 million years
  • Vertical
Cave pool
June 20, 2005

Cave pool


View of a subterranean pool in Lehman Cave.

This is a photo of massive travertine speleothems.
April 6, 2005

Carlsbad Caverns - massive travertine speleothems

The massive travertine speleothems, particularly the great stalagmites of the Big Room, reflect the antiquity of the air-filled phase of the Caverns' history. The monumental stalagmites formed over tens of thousands of years, as water slowly dripped, splashed, flowed, and dried, leaving behind a trace of calcite (travertine) with each drop. Some of these massive

Attribution: Science Support
A photo of Skull Cave
March 19, 2004

A photo of Skull Cave

Skull Cave has the largest natural opening of any of the public lava tubes in the monument.

Attribution: Science Support
A photo of Valentine Cave.
March 16, 2004

A photo of Valentine Cave.

This passage near the entrance to Valentine Cave displays lines and ridges marking fluctuating levels of lava flowing in the tube. The ceiling above the highest lava flow level displays abundant lava-cicles. Lava-cicles form from either lava splattering and dripping from the ceiling or the melting of ceiling rock from the high radiant heat and hot vapors moving in the

Attribution: Science Support
Mitchell Caverns
August 2, 2003

Mitchell Caverns


The natural entrance to Mitchell Caverns. The caverns are within the Permian Bird Springs Limestone (Norris and Webb, 1990).

Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park

Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park

Historic Entrance to Mammoth Cave National Park