A great place for the whole family to have an adventure is at Colossal Cave Mountain Park located in Vail, Arizona.
The cave is just part of the park. They also have camping and picnic grounds, trail rides, treasure hunting, hiking trails, museums, a library, gift shops and places to eat.
The normal cave tour leaves at least once an hour and lasts about 50 minutes. The cave temperature is constantly around 70 degrees, so you don’t need any additional clothing.
If you recently visited the nearby Kartchner Caverns, you may be a little disappointed with Colossal Cave. Unlike Kartchner, this is a dry, dormant cave that is not nearly as beautiful and many of the formations have been damaged.
That being said, I think it may be a better choice for families. The tour guides are very informative without giving long lectures that would bore children.
You also don’t have to worry about tours being sold out for the day, like they do at Kartchner. It’s still an impressive cave and a great adventure for the whole family.
A little more adventure is offered on Saturday evenings with their Ladder Tour. These tours last about 90 minutes and explore areas that their regular tours do not visit. Hard hats and lights are provided and the tour is followed by a buffet dinner.
I was unable to take this tour, so I can’t give you any first-hand experience but if it’s anything like the other tours it should be a lot of fun.
For the most adventure, take the Wild Cave Tour. This is a real get-down-and-dirty caving experience. They provide the helmet and light. You should come with old clothes – long pants, long sleeve shirt, light hiking or tennis shoes – knee pads and gloves. You might also want to bring along a small backpack to carry water, a camera, etc.
The tour lasts about 3-1/2 hours and you must be reasonably fit. It starts off in the regular tour part of the cave and then progressively becomes more challenging. Soon, you will be climbing, crawling and squeezing your way through parts of the cave never seen by most visitors.
My guides were Dennis and Ruby, who together provide a wonderful experience.
The guides are extremely knowledgeable about the geology of the cave and can tell you all about the formations you will see there, like these crystal formations…
The cave has a small population of bats and the guides can tell you all about them. Other critters you may see include this scorpion, a species only found in this cave.
The wild cave tour is a little pricey at $85.00 per person (two person minimum) for the Intermediate Tour and $125 for the advanced but well worth it. I was alone and so I had to pay double, but even then it was worth it.
Whether you just want to give your family a little adventure or find out what real caving is like, Colossal Cave can make it happen.
Location: It’s about 27 miles South-East of Tucson. From Tucson, just take I-10 East and look for the signed turnoff for Colossal Cave Rdand follow the signs to the park.
16721 E. Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641
Hours: Daily 8:00AM to 5:00PM