Speleofest is an annual caving event in Kentucky that takes place on Memorial Day Weekend. It was started in 1972 by the Louisville Grotto and has continued ever since. Proceeds from the event have allowed the Louisville Grotto to purchase the Lone Star Preserve in Bonnieville Kentucky, which functions as a permanent location for Speleofest and a year-round educational facility for caves and karst. The Lone Star Preserve has grown to 126 acres in recent years and has 6 caves on the property, 3 of which have over 500 feet of passage.
May 22 - May 25
Please check out the Speleofest Facebook Page.
What can you expect at Speleofest?
Once you pay for entry to the preserve, there is no additional cost for any activities. The only cash you need is for food and gear vendors if you wish to make purchases. The event kicks off on Friday night with a bon-fire party in the evening to get acquainted; drinks and snacks supplied by the grotto. Saturday evening there is banquet dinner, guest speaker, and a door prize give away. On Sunday afternoon there is a Wine and Cheese party inside Saltpeter Cave, which is typically followed by music and dancing at the shelter house. There are other unscheduled games and activities on site as well.
What about caving?
Caving is a staple of Speleofest. Trips are led by volunteers who are able to guide teams of cavers to various cave locations in the area, usually within an hour drive of the preserve. There are caves available for a range of skill levels. Participants are expected to be prepared with proper gear and knowledgeable on safe caving techniques; please see the guide to responsible caving for more info.
In addition to off-site trips, there are 6 caves on the preserve available for self-led exploration. A couple of them are sporty and you could actually spend a day or two just exploring these caves if you want to stay on site.
What is the camping like?
The Lone Star Preserve has plenty of shady camping areas. Campers and RVs are welcome but there is no electric or sewer hookups available. There are primitive showers on site and ample port a potties, which are serviced regularly throughout the weekend.
Is there anything else to do during the day?
Kayaking: The Green River and Nolin River nearby have several classic sections of class-1 boating for a satisfying day trip. Nolin lake is nice as well. Some years there are led kayaking trips if there is interest; follow the Speleofest facebook page for updates. There are printed maps and directions available on site for most of the popular kayaking routes if you wish to plan a self-led trip.
Hiking: Lots of great hiking nearby at Mammoth Cave park, Munfordville, and Elizabethtown. Printed maps are available for self-led trips. Some of the routes in the Mammoth Cave area are truly epic and won't be found in any hiking books. There is a hiking trail on site at the Lone Star Preserve as well.
Tourist Attractions: Cave city has several business attractions such as Dinosaur World, Kentucky Action Park, riding stables, shopping, and much more.
Commercial Caves: Mammoth Cave National Park, Crystal Onyx Cave, Diamond Caverns, Hidden River Cave and Museum.