I own no land, instead I have wheelestate. I’ve been a full time RVer since 1997. Working summers as a Park Ranger takes me to many beautiful places and playing during the winter takes me to many more. This blog is simply the story of my life's adventures.


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Monday, March 7, 2011

MWT - Colossal Cave Mountain Park

01 First light from camp Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Morning view from camp

Pulled into the Colossal Cave entrance just as they were closing at 5pm. But the lady at the gate took my $10 camping fee and radioed the guy at the campground gate not to close it as I was on my way.

02 View into valley where camp is from VC Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Campground to left in valley

A beautiful and primitive campground, I believe I was the only person there except for a few employees.

03 VC Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Visitor Center

The gate was reopened at 9am and I drove out of there and around a few miles to get to the cave opening and visitor center by 9:30. Only waited 30 minuets for a tour along with nine other people.

04 Map Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Our guide, Adam, knew his stuff and talked about the geologic formation of the cave and the local history.

05 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

Colossal is currently dormant, a dry cave with no new formations growing. After exceedingly heavy rain there is dripping in the cave.

06 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Scientists believe the Colossal Cave was formed about 10-15 million years ago as hot water filled with sulphuric acid welled up from below the ground dissolving the rock. Later, surface water seeped through cracks in the rock and left the formations like stalactites, stalagmites and flowstone.

07 Stalactites Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

Over two miles have cave have been explored and mapped extending 600 feet (182.88 m) into the mountain and 40 feet (12.19 m) below the main entrance.

08 Column Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

Archeological evidence of early native use by the Hohokam indicates the cave openings were used for shelter about 1100 years ago and there is still black soot on the entrance area ceiling from fires.

09 Visitor in passage Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

The cave was rediscovered in 1879 by Solomon Lick and was opened briefly for tours in 1917.

10 Flowstone Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

In 1905 a 75-foot (22.86 m) tunnel was excavated into the cave in order to mine bat guano.

11 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

In 1922, Frank Schmidt filed mining claims on land occupied by the cave. He is responsible for the first extensive survey of the cave and traveled in it for six days before using up the food and water. Although Frank relinquished his lease to the State of Arizona in 1934, he continued to lead tours for many years.

12 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

Then from 1934-36 the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built trails, handrails and lighting in the cave and built the visitor center.

13 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (768x1024)

Several movies have been made here, but the most notable is a Walt Disney Production The Outlaw Cats of Colossal Cave filmed in 1975.

14 Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

In 1992, Colossal Cave Mountain Park was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Today, over 2,000 acres include the cave and the working La Posta Quemanda Ranch, which I didn’t explore.

The cave is a balmy 70 degrees F (~20 C) and the tour lasted about an hour. Well worth it.

15 View back out of park Colossal Cave Mt Park Vail AZ (1024x768)

View back out of park

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Martha Z said...

Great images, I haven't been as successful with my cave shots.
I'm not familiar with this cave though we did visit Kartchner Caverns a few years ago. That was before I started blogging and paying attention to my photography efforts.

Zane said...

It is a treat to view your blog Gaelyn. So much history and insight. Love this post on the caves.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

What great photos and interesting as well. Glad you are back on the road again! Diane

Lucy (aka rharper) said...

Wow...I haven't been there since about 1976. I'm not real keen on going into caves. Once in Montana at Lewis and Clark caverns, I was deep into one on a tour and the lights went out. No electricity anywhere. It was not a happy feeling. But...this cave was a neat thing to go through.

Sondra said...

Looks like a great spot to visit--nice that they didnt get an attitude and let you in at closing time--
Ive visted and toured 3 caves, Cumberland Caverns in TN, Jewel Cave in SD, and Natural Bridge Caverns in VA--so many caves so little time--but Im not a huge fan, in Jewel they didnt allow us to take flash lights we had to carry a candle in a paint bucket!!

Janie said...

Great photos of the cave features! Yet another place I've never been.

Al said...

Great shots! Although I've only seen a couple, I love caves.

Nina F said...

I believe that I came here with my family for a visit in the early 1960's, when we lived in Scottsdale. Don't remember much at all but your mention brought back a vague memory.

Barb said...

The only time I go underground is with you, Gaelyn. Don't let go of my hand! (Great pics!)

Firefly said...

This looks like such a desolate but stunning area. The caves must be huge if he explored them for 6 days. WOW!

Kathiesbirds said...

Gaelyn, we took my grandkids here when they visited me from Maine at Christmas time 2 years ago. Lots of fun.

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