North Carolina bats are located in Mounties around Henderson and Rutherford Counties in an area about 186 acres and they love the North Carolina caves.
North Carolina bat caves are owned by The North Carolina Nature Conservancy and private landowners and is accessible only through the North Carolina Chapter’s field trip program from June through early August. Each spring, check the North Carolina field trip for information about the North Carolina tours. Please note that to protect the North Carolina bats and their fragile ecosystem, the North Carolina cave itself is not open to the public.
After hiking a North Carolina mile up a steep trail through a mature hardwood forest, you will be rewarded with North Carolina Bat Cave’s natural air conditioning, which is a cool moist draft that constantly pours out of North Carolina vents on the side of the large cave. North Carolina Bat Cave is the largest known granite fissure cave in North America. The main chamber is a dark cathedral more than 300 North Carolina feet long and approximately 85 feet high. Fissure caves are formed by North Carolina rock splits, boulder movements, and other motions of the earth, while most other North Carolina caves are formed by water dissolving and abrading rock.
While seeing this impressive North Carolina cave opening is the attraction for most visitors, the rugged slopes around North Carolina Bat Cave contain an equally important array of habitats and creatures. North Carolina Hickory Nut Gorge is cloaked in cove hardwood forest, while North Carolina hemlock and chestnut oak forest are found on the cliff tops and ridgeline. The North Carolina forests harbor a number of threatened or endangered plants, such as broadleaf coreopsis and Carey’s saxifrage. The North Carolina preserve has an abundance of spring wildflowers, including bloodroot, toothwort, trillium, and violets.
One of the North Carolina Conservancy’s goals in managing this preserve is to reestablish the critically endangered North Carolina Indiana bat to its former habitat. The North Carolina cave itself is closed to visitation at all times and the preserve is closed from October to mid-April in an effort to allow the bats to hibernate undisturbed. If North Carolina bats are disturbed during hibernation, they fly around and quickly use up the stored energy that they need to survive the winter. Three previously North Carolina described invertebrates — a spider, a millipede, and an amphipod — also live in the cave and are specially adapted to survive without sunlight and with a limited food supply.