The DC and Baltimore grottoes cordially invite you to the Fall 2019 VAR Sept 26-29 at Friars Hole Cave Preserve in Lobelia, WV.


Pre-registration is now closed. Please register on-site. Download the registration form now and bring it with you. Only cash and checks accepted on-site. Due to lack of internet, we cannot accept PayPal on-site. On-site prices are $45 for adults and $30 for children 5-14. Under 5 is free. Registration included mandatory VAR membership and the next 4 issues of the Region Record.


Since we are camping at a cave, we cannot post directions publicly. Find Droop Mountain Battlefield State Park on US 219 near Droop, WV, about 15 miles south of Marlinton, WV and 25 miles noroth of Lewisburg, WV, on your favorite map service, go 1/2 mile south and follow the large yellow VAR signs. If you are coming up Route 219 from Lewisburg, WV and get to the battlefield, you have gone too far. The rest of the way to VAR will be well marked.


T-shirts were available by pre-order ONLY, but we may have a few extras for sale on-site. Shirts will be solid gray with our designs and are made of a 100% polyester, super-soft athletic, quick-drying, sweat-wicking material that is perfect for caving! T-shirts are available in both mens' and womens' styles, and will be $15 for XS, S, M, L, and XL, and $17 for 2XL, 3XL, and 4XL.

Friars Hold 2019 T-Shirt Front Friars Hold 2019 T-Shirt Detail Friars Hold 2019 T-Shirt Back

We will be camping in a large, mowed cow pasture iright next to the cave. Plenty of porta-potties will be supplied. Smaller campers are welcome, but larger RVs might have a difficult time. There are no hookups. This is primitive camping. Bring your own food, water, and everything you need for the weekend, and plan to haul out your own trash and recycling. Except for cave trips, please plan to stay for the weekend. There are few stores close by. Stock up in Lewisburg on your way in. This is a BYOB event.

VAR will take place around the new moon. Bring extra camp lights and extra batteries. The sky will be amazing! Even better if you bring binoculars or a telescope!


This is a working farm. Well behaved dogs are welcome, but must be kept on a leash and under control at all times.

The nearest hotels are in Marlinton, WV and Lewisburg, WV.

We will be opening on Thursday for those who want to come for a long weekend. Cave on your own on Thursday and Friday.Registration will open Friday.

There will be a caving trip to Scott Hollow on Friday. See below.

Friars Hole is the largest cave in West Virginia, with nearly 50 miles of passage. There are two entrances immediately adjacent to the campground and several others a short hike away. Most trips in Friars Hole will be self-serve.


  • Scott Hollow, ~6 hour trip to John's Flowstone and Amber's Garden horizontal, wet intermediate cave. Contact Heather Williams at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. before VAR if you are interested.


  • Bone-Norman thru-trip, limit 8, the Devil's Pinch is still tight!
  • Monster Cavern trip, limit 6, this is a long, hard, wewt, and cold trip, for advanced cavers only. You MUST contact Ryan Mauer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. BEFORE VAR
  • South Friars, including the Lost Passage and Mauck's Discovery, intermediate, vertical required, limit 8.
  • Snedegars Cave Tourist Loop, easy, mid-day, probably 11-3, limit 12.
  • Poorfarm (Greenbrier), easy, mostly walking beginner trip
  • Grapevine Pit at Lost World Caverns will be rigged and open for your rappelling and climbing pleasure.
  • Friars Hole to Snedegars thru trip (Sorry, the leader got waylaid and cannot make VAR)

We are still working on cave trips. If you know any of the other area caves and are willing to lead a trip, please contact Jim McConkey at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

There are many other great caves within a short distance, including:

  • Culverson Creek
  • Maxwelton
  • Borehole
  • and many more.
  • There has been a special request for a geezers trip - maybe Friday


The fence to keep cows out of the Snedegars entrance has seen better days and has mostly fallen down. We are trying to arrange a project to fix it. Posthole diggers might be helpful.


Sorry, we invited all the usual vendors, but they unfortunately all had other obligations.

So instead, we will sponsoring our own Yard Sale and Equipment Swap. Bring your unwanted caving, camping, or whatever gear to sell or trade.

Don't want to get dirty? There are lots of other local above ground activities including:


Saturday's dinner will be catered by Blue Roof Caterers and will feature pork and chicken BBQ, a vegetarian option, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, coleslaw, tea, lemonade, and desserts.


After dinner we will move underground for the presentation and IN-CAVE PARTY. Keely Owens and other possible speakers will discuss the history and recent discoveries in the Friars Hole System. Afterwards, John Fox will DJ your favorite tunes the evening's IN-CAVE party. If you have LED light strings, tea candles, or laser shows, please bring them to add to the ambience! (label your stuff so you can get it back!). Bring your best glow-in-the-dark or lighted T-shirt.

If the cave is too loud for your, there will also be relaxing outdoors around the bonfire.

BYOB for the evening party and bonfire.


VAR Business Meeting under the big tarps near registration at 9 AM.


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