Kraus Cave

Useful Information

Location: In Gams near Hieflau.
Follow road to the Nothklamm, a gorge at the western end of the village. 2km from turn off to parking lot. 15 min walk from the parking lot, first 200m along a single lane road, then steep uphill on a winding trail.
Open: Easter to OCT Wed-Sun, Hol after appointment.
Summer holidays Wed-Sun, Hol 9-16.
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Children EUR 3, minimum fee for a tour EUR 15.
Classification: ExplainKarst cave
Light: Carbide lamps provided by the guide.
Dimension: A=620m asl, L=340m, T=5-8°C, VR=24m.
Guided tours: D=60min. For groups over 15 persons reservation required. Tours as required, minimum 4 persons or minimum fee.
Bibliography: Heinrich Kusch, Ingrid Kusch (1998): Höhlen der Steiermark, Graz 1998 (Deutsch - German)
Robert Bouchal, Josef Wirth (2000): Österreichs faszinierende Höhlenwelt, Pichler Verlag, Wien 2000 (Deutsch - German)
Franz Kraus (1894): Höhlenkunde, Wege and Zweck der Erforschung unterirdisher Räume
Wien, 1894, 308 pp, 155 illustrations, 3 maps and 3 plans. HB
Covers the geography, geology and physical and anthropological aspects of caves. (Deutsch - German)
Address: Kraushöhle, Verwaltung: Feuerwehr Gams, A-8922 Gams.
Fam. Mitterbäck, Tel: +43-3637-360.
Frau Bachler, Tel: +43-3637-223.
Gemeinde Gams, Tel: +43-3637-206, Fax: +43-3637-2066. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1838 known to the locals.
1881 systematic exploration and development by Franz Kraus.
1882 inaugurated and opened to the public.
1883 first electric light in a cave istalled, powered by a water driven generator.
1890 electric light shut down.
1913 cave received Denkmalschutz (cultural monument).
1964 survey by the Denkmalamt (monument comission).
1964 the fire brigade of Gams starts to manage the cave.


The Kraushöhle was named after its explorer and developer Regierungsrat Franz Kraus. He was the father of speleology in Austria. A monument to him was installed in the cliff above the cave entrance.

A winding tunnel leads down to a huge main chamber called The Ballroom, with several small and short side passages. It is a karst cave with some dripstones, but it is famous for its gypsum (CaSO4) speleothems. A nearby sulfuric spring, which was used for bathing at the beginning of the century, is a logic explanation how they were formed. Warm sulfuric water from the same source once filled the cave. The soluted limestone and the sulfur in the water caused a chemical reaction which produced the gypsum. Latest scientific research in Lechuguilla and other caves make it very likely, that sulfur loving bacteria produced the gypsum by feeding on the sulfur.

This cave is unique in Europe: it is one of only two limestone caves with this kind of sulfuric speleothems, which is also a show cave. The other one is Grotta Grande del Vento, Genga, Italy. Similar caves are rare but can be found all over the world, and the most famous is Lechuguilla Cave.

And another strange thing: this is the very first cave in the world with electric light but today it is one of the last guided with carbide lamps. The electric light was installed by Franz Kraus in 1883 and it was powered by a water driven generator, which was built at the brook below. But this early electric light did not work very well. After seven years it had to be shut down, because of technical difficulties and too high costs. The installations were removed completely and today this cave is one of the last show caves in Austria still visited with carbide lamps. The Austrian government does not allow the installation of electric light to protect the fragile gypsum speleothems.