Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Part 3: Gap Cave

I will learn to use my camera to properly take pictures in low light. I promise it’ll happen someday, really. But unfortunately this is yet another cave I’ve been in where I can’t really show you all the underground formations.

Gap Cave is a fairly typical example of a Karst cave, formed by (acidic) water erosion of limestone. There are five levels of the cave that have been explored with the bottom level submerged by an underground river. The ranger-led tour of the cave included the usual topics of cave formation but what made this cave special was the Civil War graffiti of both Union and Confederate soldiers who were stationed near here. The second level of the cave, where the tour exits, was even used as a hospital at one point and an ammunition dump starting in 1861.

Stalagmite almost grown into a column, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Stalagmite almost grown into a column, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Draperies, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Draperies, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Cave bacon (that's really what they call it), Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Cave bacon (that’s really what they call it), Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Bad phone picture of iridescent stalactites, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Bad phone picture of iridescent stalactites, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Another bad phone picture but the only one in which you can see the pool and rimstone dams, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Another bad phone picture but the only one in which you can see the pool and rimstone dams, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Civil War graffiti, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Civil War graffiti, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Cave exit, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Cave exit, Gap Cave, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Virginia

Finally, on the day of the tour of the cave there was a most spectacular sunset back on the Kentucky side of the park. Facing almost directly west, the mountains were perfectly silhouetted against the oranges. I couldn’t have asked for a nicer end to the day:

Sunset near the visitor center, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky

Sunset near the visitor center, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Kentucky