About the Refuge

Fern Cave NWR

Fern Cave NWR was established for the purpose of protecting the endangered species of bats that live in the cave the refuge is named after. With over one million bats, Fern Cave is home to the largest wintering colony of gray bats in the United States.


Our Mission: Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge was established in 1981, under the authority of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, to provide protection for the endangered gray and Indiana bats. 


Fern Cave NWR consists of 199 acres of forested hillside underlain by a massive cave with many stalactite and stalagmite-filled rooms. The cave has five hidden entrances with four occurring on the Refuge. Access is extremely difficult and has been described as a vertical and horizontal maze by expert cavers. Horizontal sections of the cave are known to be more than 15 miles long and vertical drops of 450 feet are found within. Spectacular features including unrivaled formations, important paleological and archaeological finds, and a diverse cave fauna have contributed to Fern Cave as being described as the most spectacular cave in the U.S. and has fame both nationally and internationally.