Sentier Karstique Font d’Urle

Useful Information

Location: Font d'Urle.
(44.897738, 5.320510)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: TopicSentier Karstique KarstKarst KarstLimestone Pavements KarstKarren SpeleologyIce Cave SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: bring torch.
Dimension: Glacière de Font d'Urle: VR=89 m.
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Sentier Karstique Font d’Urle.
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.


2002 new passages discovered in the Glacière de Font d'Urle by cavers from the SC Alpin Francais de Romans.


The Sentier Karstique Font d’Urle is named after the place where it starts, a collection of restaurants, bars, and skiing equipment shops. It is sometimes called a village, but actually it is the lower station of a ski lift. Originally it was an alpage, a high pasture with a few huts for the cow herder. Located at the southern end of the Vercors plateau in the end of a dry valley, it is easily reached on the D76. In Winter, it is very popular, especially on weekend when day trippers come from the surrounding cities for skiing, but in Summer only a few mountaineer are here and most venues are closed.

The ski lift goes up a steep meadow to the Porte d'Urle, a lower section of the southern escarpment of the Vercors. The view is great, and there are numerous vultures living in the cliffs, for which the place is quite famous. Turning to the left the trail makes a loop over a flat bare karst hill which is full of cave. The most sectacular is probably the Glacière de Font d'Urle (Font d'Urle Ice Cave), which is a typical ice cave of the cold trap type. So-called Scialets, potholes in the local dialect, are definitely not safe to visit. There is even a viewing platform built across one of the potholes.

The top of the hill has numerous strange rock formations. Quite impressive is a huge area of limestone pavement. The geology is also interesting. While the steepest slope is to the south the limestone layers are tilted to the north, and the whole area actually drains in this direction. This is the catchment area of the Source du Cholet at the Combe Laval.

Unlike most other karst trails in France, this one is located in an Alpine area. The trail has steep ascents and descent, the caves are often vertical, the elevation is only 1,500 m asl, but the weather is important. It's essential to have good shoes, warm jacket and raincoat for bad weather, sun protection for good weather, some water and probably a snack. Also, we recommend to never make this trip alone, if there is an accident nobody will alarm the mountain rescue. We strongly recommend to follow the same security rules as for any cave tour.