Skip to main content

Hidden Nature
Wild Southern Caves

Author(s): Michael Ray Taylor

More than ten thousand known caves lie beneath the state of Tennessee according to the Tennessee Cave Survey, a nonprofit organization that catalogs and maps them. Thousands more riddle surrounding states. In Hidden Nature, Michael Ray Taylor tells the story of this vast underground wilderness. In addition to describing the sheer physical majesty of the region’s wild caverns and the concurrent joys and dangers of exploring them, he examines their rich natural history and scientific import, their relationship to clean water and a healthy surface environment, and their uncertain future.

As a longtime caver and the author of three popular books related to caving—Cave Passages, Dark Life, and Caves—Taylor enjoys (for a journalist) unusual access to this secretive world. He is personally acquainted with many of the region’s most accomplished cave explorers and scientists, and they in turn are familiar with his popular writing on caves in books; in magazines such as Audubon, Outside, and Sports Illustrated; and on websites such as those of the Discovery Channel and the PBS science series Nova.

Hidden Nature is structured as a comprehensive work of well-researched fact that reads like a personal narrative of the author’s long attraction to these caves and the people who dare enter their hidden chambers.

Biography of Author(s)


  • “Michael Ray Taylor’s Hidden Nature is destined to become to wild Southern caves what Bill Bryson’s A Walk in the Woods is to the Appalachian Trail: a book that reaches both beginners and experts, the merely curious and the passionately obsessed alike. Moving elegantly between personal experience, history, and science, it brings to vibrant life a secret world full of marvels and mysteries and, above all, beauty.”
    Margaret Renkl, author of Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss
  • “Welcome to a whole new world you will not want to come up from. Thank goodness Michael Taylor has the writing chops to describe it all beautifully, and exactly, and with the suspense and tension necessary to any great read.”
    Clyde Edgerton, author of The Night Train and Papadaddy’s Book for New Fathers
  • “Part detective story, part memoir, part geological history—Michael Ray Taylor’s beautiful Hidden Nature is an unputdownable book. I expected bats and stalactites, sure—but his lifelong love and obsession dropped me beneath the earth I know, fascinated. For cavers and non-cavers, this is a must read, I promise.”
    George Singleton, author of You Want More: Selected Stories
  • “This captivating and insightful book captures the essence of American caving and speleology, from the author’s beginnings as a caver, to science, prominent explorers, the Golden Age of Cave Discovery, and more—lots more. I think it gives the best explanation yet of ‘the why.’”
    Bill Steele, author of Yochib: The River Cave
  • “A riveting account of caves and the unique individuals who explore them. With one action-filled adventure after another, the reader learns not only about caves but also much about the human spirit and the hearts and minds of cavers—some of the most dedicated and eclectic of explorers.”
    Chris Nicola, co-author of The Secret of Priest’s Grotto, the basis of the film No Place on Earth