About ACCA

The nonprofit American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) operates Hidden River Cave and the American Cave Museum as part of our educational initiative to support the protection of caves, karstlands, and groundwater resources.


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Cave and Karst areas need your help


The American Cave Conservation Association (ACCA) is a national not-for-profit organization founded to conserve caves and karst areas. Karst areas are soluble rock landscapes, typically underlain by limestone, which are characterized by caves, sinkholes, underground streams, and springs. Karst areas make up approximately 20% of the United States.

The ACCA is headquartered in Horse Cave, Kentucky at the American Cave and Karst Center, a national educational center focused on protecting caves. The center is close to some of the longest caves in the world.

ACCA operates the American Cave Museum and Hidden River Cave as part of the Karst Center, The museum helps the public understand what kinds of resources are found in caves and why it is important to protect them.

As you may have read on this site, Hidden River Cave was once one of the most polluted caves in America. ACCA’s efforts helped restore the cave and it now serves as a “living exhibit,” allowing visitors to see first-hand the intricate relationship between above and below ground activities in karst areas. Our tours tell the amazing story of Hidden River Cave to help provide a better understanding and appreciation for fragile cave resources.


We started as a small group of concerned cavers who were inspired to create a national museum and educational center devoted to cave conservation. Below are some of our accomplishments.

  • ACCA spearheaded the effort to pass the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act in 1988.
  • ACCA pioneered the development of a style of cave gate which has become the industry standard for protecting endangered bats.
  • ACCA restored and reopened Hidden River Cave which was once known as the most polluted cave in America.
  • Together, we have built a multimillion-dollar facility that houses the American Cave Museum which 25,000 people now visit annually.
  • We are the stewards of Hidden River Cave and also Hicks Cave, together comprising more than 30 total miles of explored cave passages thus far … with more to be found. The two cave systems are adjacent to Mammoth Cave National Park and in the buffer zone of Mammoth Cave’s International Biosphere Reserve. Our two caves harbor 21 endemic cave animals, including rare and threatened species. The ACCA negotiated and secured the funding necessary to purchase the surface and subsurface cave properties. In 2015, we joined with the City of Horse Cave to sign an easement to protect Hidden River Cave.
  • We have sponsored more than 15 National Cave Management Seminars and Symposia to teach professional land managers how to take care of caves.
  • We have provided direct interpretive education programs to more than 400,000 people including school children, scout groups and teachers.
  • Nearly 25,000 people annually visit Hidden River Cave and the American Cave Museum which gives us the unique opportunity to tell the story of Hidden River Cave and inspire an appreciation for fragile cave resources.
  • We have removed hundreds of tons of waste from more than 20 sinkholes dumps in Kentucky therefore directly protecting sensitive karst groundwater systems.


The areas where caves are found are known as Karst regions. Karst is a unique landscape that is characterized by caves, sinkholes, springs and disappearing streams. Approximately 20 percent of the United States is underlain by Karst and few Americans living in these special areas understand the geologic conditions and/or how to prevent environmental problems associated with karst regions.


Karst regions, are under threat from urbanization and poor land use planning. Millions of people throughout America get their drinking water from karst aquifers. Most are unaware of how easily karst groundwater systems can become contaminated by sewage and industrial waste. Poorly planned development in karst regions can lead to sinkhole collapses and flooding which damages houses, roads, and other structures.


Cave’s are one of the most unique and fragile ecosystems on the planet. Caves harbor a variety of rare and endangered animals, some of which may only be found in one location in the world. Millions of people annually visit America’s beautiful show caves because of the spectacular mineral formations created by the interaction between groundwater and soluble rocks. Stalactites, stalagmites and other cave formations may take thousands of years to form, but can be destroyed instantly by a careless cave visitor. The same can be said for historical and prehistoric artifacts which have been preserved in caves but are under threat from looters and accidental damage.


by becoming a Member of the American Cave Conservation Association.

Memberships and donations help support ACCA’s conservation and educational programs. There is strength in numbers . . . by joining the ACCA you are helping us to create a constituency to speak for caves. Caves can’t defend themselves. They are often out-of-sight and therefore out-of-mind. With your help, we can ensure that America’s beautiful and fragile natural caverns and karst resources are protected for future generations to enjoy.


ACCA members are part of a special group working to preserve one of the most unusual environments on Earth. Your support truly makes a difference.

*Regular Membership ($25) Benefits Include:

  • FREE admission to the American Cave Museum
  • 20% discount on Hidden River Cave tours and Gift Shop items for Member & Guests
  • Discounted rates for special exhibitions or events through our affiliation with the Southeastern Museums Conference – for more information, please visit: https://www.semcdirect.net/SERM-Participants
  • Reciprocal admission to over 60 museums in the Southeast USA
  • Subscription to our quarterly newsletter ACCA News
  • voting privileges for election of ACCA Board of Directors
  • Opportunities to participate in volunteer projects and educational workshops hosted by the ACCA
  • More importantly, you will receive the opportunity to help conserve the fragile and irreplaceable natural caverns and karst areas located throughout America.

*Supporter Membership ($50)
All Regular Membership benefits plus FREE Hidden River Cave tour admission for 1 Member

*Sustainer Membership ($100)
All Regular Membership benefits plus FREE Hidden River Cave tour admission for 1 Member and 1 Guest

*Guarantor Membership ($250), Benefactor Membership ($500), Patron Membership ($1,000), Life Membership
All Regular Membership benefits plus FREE Hidden River Cave tour admission for 1 Member and up to 4 Guests

*Our reservation system does not currently provide a way to include member discounts for tour reservations. If you are a member, please call us at (270) 786-1466 to book your tour. Alternately, you can present your membership card when you arrive.

Please visit the American Cave Conservation Association website for additional donation options and gift membership information.

You can also mail a check or money order (U.S. Funds only) payable to:
American Cave Conservation Association • P.O. Box 409 • Horse Cave, KY 42749

Hidden River Cave & The American Cave Museum are operated by the American Cave Conservation Association,

A National 501 (c) 3 Nonprofit Organization.

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