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Sulphur Cave

Courtesy of John Spear
The worms found living in Sulphur Cave.
Steamboat’s Sulphur Cave

Colorado has 16 National Natural Landmarks. You’d recognize many of them: scenic, iconic places like the Garden of the Gods, Hanging Lake. And then there’s a very different site you cannot see, and not just because it’s underground.

Sulphur Cave in Steamboat Springs is potentially deadly. Sulfuric acid drips from the ceiling. The air reeks of rotten eggs. A breath or two could knock you out. And yet, life exists here. Bacterial colonies live off the sulfur, and in turn they feed a rare worm.

Just an inch long, the worm wriggles and writhes in large twisted blood-red clumps, needs only trace amounts of oxygen, and can even detoxify air in the cave. Scientists are interested in studying these cave worms in hopes of developing medical benefits. An important role for the unique life form thriving in the brimstone haze of Steamboat Springs’ Sulphur Cave.

About Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards

Colorado Postcards are snapshots of our colorful state in sound. They give brief insights into our people and places, our flora and fauna, and our past and present, from every corner of Colorado.