Most of you already know that we are a rock climbing family. We tend to spend a lot of time going up, when we are outside. So, when I told them that I wanted to go under the rocks, I was met with “why?” from the kids and “uh, how deep?” from the hubby.
Our kids would never choose to spend their precious down time exploring caves with mom, when they could be hanging off the side of a mountain instead. And hubby, well he is not super excited about the close quarters that are 80 feet below the surface. To be fair, he is not always happy with how far above the earth we take him either, but he is getting better with the heights!
Colossal Cave is located in Vail, which is about an hour south of our home in Tucson. I was not able to get the kids there, but I did managed to talk my husband into it!
There are three tours to choose from, the regular tour which is an hour, the ladder tour that goes for 1 1/2 hours and the wild cave experience that is 3 1/2 tour. Knowing that I was already pushing the boundaries of my marriage, I stuck to the shorter hike that did not require belly crawling through small openings.
It was a cold day, by Arizona standards, when we decided to visit the park. The site is dedicated to preserving the old mining history of the area. We were greeted by a statue and sluice used for separating the sediment from the desired minerals, mostly crystals at this site.
Additionally there is a map. The regular tour centered around the “sink hole” formation on the left. The more advanced tours head into the middle and right sections of the cave, which is still being developed today.
Although the temperature outside was in the high 50Fs that day, the cave is always around 70F, with fairly high humidity. It was quite comfortable! And there was plenty of room to accommodate the entire group. Perfect conditions for my hubby!
The cave is dark and picture taking was not always easy, but I did mange to get a few shots that show a small fraction of the beauty found here.
There were plenty of stalactite and stalagmite formations to impress us.
The guide was great! He was funny and provided a wonderful historical perspective as we moved from one cavern to the next. Along the way we were told about the life of the average cave worker, back in those early days.
One of the corridors contained display cases, which contained clothing and tools utilized by the laborers, hard to believe this was the “state of the art” equipment back then.
Do you see the “head lamp” above? This cloth cap was attached to an open flame that was used for light and visibility, in the dark cave. Imagine walking around, in pitch black, with a 6 inch open, blue flame emanating from your forehead. That is a cloth hat!! And, all the rope and clothing were cotton, yikes.
There were no power tools, and no explosives were used to excavate the cave. Just hand tools and muscle.
Two of my favorite features are depicted below.
This column formed when a stalagmite and stalactite fused together.
This is a picture of “cave ice”. Remember, its 70F or more in the cave all year long. So, this ice is really a unique structure that forms from a particular combination of minerals, which came into contact with slowly dripping water for an extended period of time (like eons). It is white due to the crystal structure and it is slippery, much like the surrounding limestone found in all the rock climbing areas! I know this from trying to climb in the nearby Cochise Stronghold Area. It is hard to climb a bar of soap🤨!
My hubby was happy that the tour was ending and we went for a short hike, out in the wide open spaces.
He is definitely happier out here! You can see the stone structure behind him, which is the cave entrance and visitor center.
So I finally got my cave adventure😊 I will be going back in late April for one of the more extensive tours, and can’t wait to see the other areas of the cave. I will be doing that one solo as hubby has said “NO!” but that’s ok. I totally understand 💕