Bären- and Karlshöhle - Erpfinger Höhle

Bears' Cave and Charles' Cave - Cave of Erpfingen

Useful Information

the big hall of bears' bones. To protect the visitors from the wild cave bears, a two metre high fence was erected.
Location: A81 exit Herrenberg, B28 36 km to Reutlingen, B313 direction Sigmaringen, after 23 km turn right, 4 km direction Erpfingen. 2,5 km north east Erpfingen, 20 km south east Tübingen. (73,Kb58)
Open: MAR Sat, Sun, Hol 9-17.
APR to OCT daily 9-17:30.
NOV, Sat, Sun, Hol 9-17.
Fee: Adults EUR 4, Reduced EUR 3, Children (6-14) EUR 2.50, Children (0-5) free, Family (2+*) EUR 10.
Groups (20+): Adults EUR 3, Children (6-14) EUR 2.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave horizontal cave, Malm (jurassic limestone).
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=292 m. A=800 m asl Karlshöhle L=168 m. Bärenhöhle L=103 m. GR: L=32 m, B=20 m, H=10 m.
Guided tours: L=271 m, D=30 min., V=105,000/a [2005], guided and self guided tours.
Bibliography: Dr. Georg Wagner, ed. (1988): The Bears' Cave of Erpfingen,
Wolfgang Ufrecht, Thekla Abel, Christof Harlacher (2003): Zur plio-pleistozänen Entwicklung der Bären- und Karlshöhle bei Erpfingen (Schwäbische Alb) unter Berücksichtigung der Sinterchronologie, Laichinger Höhlenfreund, 38 (2), Laichingen 2003, 39-106, 35 Abb., 3 Tab. (Deutsch - German) Bookenglish abstract
Various (2004): Zur Geologie, Paläontologie und Entstehung der Bären- und Karlshöhle bei Erpfingen, Schwäbische Alb (Kat.No. 7621/01), Laichinger Höhlenfreund, 38, Heft 2, pp. 37-196, Laichingen 2003, ISBN: 034468322003 (Deutsch - German)
Address: Gemeinde Sonnenbühl, Hauptstraße 2, 72820 Sonnenbühl, Tel: +49-7128-925-0, Fax: +49-7128-92550. E-mail: contact
Cave: +49-7128-925-18.
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.
one of the wild cave bears (Ursus spelaeus).


30-MAY-1834 Karlshöhle discovered by schoolmaster Fauth from Erpfingen.
1934 electric light installed.
1949 Bärenhöhle discovered by the guide Karl Bez.
1950 development and opening of the new section.


this circular shapes at the ceiling are the remains of stalactites, which were destroyed almost completely by cave ice during the Ice Age.

The Karlshöhle (Charles' Cave), the first part of the Bärenhöhle (Bears' Cave), was discovered by the school teacher Fauth, while he was looking for herbs. The entrance was called Fauthsloch to his honor. This original entrance can be seen, 20 m behind todays entrance. It is a cleft, about 50 cm wide, which resulted from the collapse of a piece of the ceiling. In the Middle Ages plague victims were probably thrown into this cleft. Several skeletons were found in the debris under the cleft.

The Charles' Cave is today entered through a tunnel and left at the end of the Bears' Cave by another tunnel. The tour follows the cave in the opposite direction of the brook, which once formed it.

At the discovery of the Charles' Cave were huge amounts of Biologycave bear (Ursus spelaeus) bones on the floor. But because of unsatisfactory protection of the cave, the bones were soon despoiled. They were used by the people as a fertilizer.

The bears entered the cave not by the Fauthsloch, but by an entrance at the other end of the cave, near the artificial exit. This entrance collapsed many thousand years ago. Fortunately, a section in the middle of the cavern was also closed, so the Charles' Cave was only one half of the cave.

the hidden connection to the Bärenhöhle.

The continuation of the cave was discovered in 1949 by the cave guide Karl Bez. A small crevice at the end of the Charles' Cave, which was more than 5 m above ground in an over-hanging cliff, was a natural connection. It was used by bats to fly from one part of the cave to the other. Karl Bez saw the bats flying into the crevice and tried to follow them.

The first bear skeletons are situated in the small connecting corridor. Much more bone are to be found in the following larger chambers. Due to the many bones, the new section was soon called Bears' Cave. Today Bears' Cave is the common name used for the whole cave.

The bad experiences with the looting of Charles' Cave, convinced the cave administration to leave the bones, if possible, at their discovery site. The cave was left nearly in the original state, just despite the tour path, and so the cave is today really worth a visit.

Originally, to reach the Bears' Cave from Charles' Cave, the 5 m high cliff had to be climbed. This connection is not suitable for the cave bears, they were not able tho reach Bears' Cave this way. There must have been another entrance, which was later blocked. But the location of this former entrance is unknown.

A recreational park above the cave makes it a popular trip target on weekends. Visitors prefering a peaceful visit to the cave with the possibilty to take a little more time for the cave itself, should avoid weekends - especially those with good weather. On days with few visitors the cave can be visited on self guided tours!

Bärenhöhle Gallery