Caving in the Ozarks

Springfield Plateau Grotto and its members are dedicated to exploring and understanding what lies beneath the Ozarks.

Jun 2014


Missouri’s amazing caverns make it a great place to strap on a helmet and head down under. But for those seeking a community of adventurers, one group is dedicated to exploring, conserving and learning about the Ozarks underworld: the Springfield Plateau Grotto (SPG).


Springfield Plateau Grotto meets at 7 p.m. the second Thursday of each month at the Springfield Conservation Nature Center auditorium. The public is welcome to attend. To find out more about SPG, visit

“We formed the Springfield Plateau Grotto in 2006 with a core group of cavers that just wanted to get together,” says Charity Hertzler, president of SPG. “A lot of cavers who are in this area like to go, have fun and explore, and we do that, but we wanted to focus more on scientific project caving and cave conservation.”

SPG members work in teams to help accomplish certain goals. One crew works to further educate the community about cave conservation at public events, another crew conducts scientific research in local caves, and other crews lead caving expeditions for local school groups and more activities to further awareness of life in Missouri’s caves. 

“Our mission is to educate the public about cave conservation,” Hertzler says. “One of our big priorities is to try to get the community involved, so they can learn why caves are so important.”

Members range in age and profession, and parents are encouraged to bring their children along during cave trips.  But to join, potential members must undergo a unique initiation, Hertzler says.

“To become a member, the Grotto requires that you go on three cave trips,” she says. “That gives the person an opportunity to go caving with us and see if this is really a group that they want to get involved in. Caving isn’t really for everyone, but our group is open to anyone.”