Mitchell Caverns, located in the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area of the Mojave National Preserve, about 118 miles from Barstow, California maintain a fairly constant temperature inside of 65 degrees. This makes them a great place to visit and escape the heat of the Mojave Desert during the Summer as well as the cold winds that come down off the mountains in the Winter.
The underground climate is of course just a side attraction. The real attractions are the cave formations and the stories about the caves.
Mitchell Caverns is composed of El Pakiva Cavern and Tecopa Cavern. These two caverns are connected by a tunnel. The first people to use these caverns were the Chemehuevi Indians who considered it a sacred place. They called it the “eyes of the mountain”, and you can see why…
The name of the caverns comes from Jack and Ida Mitchell, who gave cave tours here, from 1934 to 1954. They even had rooms and meals available for a small fee. In 1956, the caverns were purchased by the State of California, who runs the tour operations today. The Mitchell’s former home is now used as the tour center.
Tours are at 11am and 2pm Friday through Sunday. Also on Monday if it’s a holiday. Summer tours (June through August) are at 10am. The park is closed Christmas day and New Years day.
The tour schedule is subject to change and tours do sell out, so call 760-928-2586 on Mondays between 8am and 5pm before going.
Tour groups are limited to 15 people, so you need to make reservations at least 3 weeks in advance if you have a large group that wants to visit. Reservations can be made by calling the tour center at 760-928-2586 on Mondays between 8am and 5pm.
Tour fees are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for children 16 and under and $5 for seniors. Although the tour is not strenuous, be aware that there is a 3/4 mile hike to and from the caverns.
There are no hotels or restaurants nearby. Food is not available at the caverns, so bring your own supplies. The nearest gas station is 24 miles away in Fenner.
Near Mitchell Caverns is a 3rd cave called Winding Stair. This is a technical cave that is not open to the public but caving trips to it can be arranged by a caving club.
Here’s a map of the area. To get to the caverns, take Essex Road off of Interstate 40 and follow it all the way to the end. The road is bad in spots and there are cattle around, so watch your speed. I hope you enjoy your visit!