It’s a unique stop on Route 66 but the Grand Canyon Caverns did not overly impress me. Don’t get me wrong, if you’ve never been in a large cavern before, you will be impressed with the shear size of them. They are known as the largest “dry” caverns in North America. It’s just that there are very few cave formations like you would see in a wet cave like Kartchner Caverns, Arizona.
What they lack in formations they make up for in some unique, if not a little tacky features like a large dinosaur outside the cavern entrance.
They also have an underground wedding chapel, fake skeletons of “unfortunate spelunkers” climbing up the rocks, a mummified bobcat…
To be fair, there are some interesting formations also. Like these large popcorn formations they call “snowballs.”
The Grand Canyon Caverns do have quite a history. They were discovered in 1927 and soon became a tourist attraction. The first tourswere conducted by lowering the guest down into the cavern on a rope attached to a winch. More refined methods were developed and in 1962 an elevator was installed which now takes guests 210 feet down to the caverns.
At one time, during the cold war, the caverns were prepared to act as a fallout shelter for up to 2000 people. There are still piles of food and water left in the caverns to this day…
The remains of a giant ground sloth were found in the caverns and a replica now stands under the claw marks that it left behind on the cavern wall.
Digging and exploration of the caverns continues to this day. It is believed that the caverns connect to the Grand Canyon, 63 miles away. At one time, red smoke bombs were set off in the caverns and the smoke appeared at the Grand Canyon a few weeks later.
This would be a good place to take the family and I’m sure the kids would have a great adventure. Besides the cavern tours, they have horseback riding, jeep tours of the Grand Canyon, hiking trails and gemstone panning.
The cavern tours last about 45 minutes and cover about 3/4 of a mile. They leave at 9:30am and 10:30am and then every half hour until 4PM. Cost is $20.95 for adults, $15.95 for seniors 55 and over and $13.95 for children 6 to 12. Under 5 are free. They also have an “off trail” Explorers Tour available for $79.95. For more information, there number is 928-422-3223.
The caverns are located on Historic Route 66, 196 miles NW of Phoenix and 168 miles East of Las Vegas. They also have an airstrip at the caverns in case you happen to be a pilot.
If you want to stay in the area, there are not a lot of choices but there is The Cavern’s Inn motel right at the caverns.
And of course, if you want something real unique, you can stay in the underground motel suite located inside the caverns! If you are an RV’er, there is an RV campground on site as well.
If you get hungry, there is a restaurant at the cavern entrance but I did not try it.
Overall, the Grand Canyon Caverns is not high on my adventure scale but is an interesting place to visit if you’re passing by or want to add a side trip to a visit to the Grand Canyon.