When chatting with some of the ranch employees one day, they told us about "Colossal Cave", which they raved about. We learned that it was a short 20 - 30 minute drive away and decided to go see it one afternoon.
We learned that the cave is actually a part of "Colossal Cave Mountain Park" and encompasses many more things to do and see than just the cave itself. (The Park was placed on the "National Register of Historic Places" in 1934.) For an admission fee of $5 per car, or $1 per person if more than 6 people (same as 2008 fee), you will be given a map and information about activities which will keep you in the park for a day or perhaps several days.
One large part of the park is the La Posta Quemada Ranch which is a 130 year old working ranch where you will find museums, a research library, riding stables, a gift shop, restaurant, gardens, picnic area, restrooms and MORE. There is even an area to sluice for gemstones! The El Bosquecito & La Selvilla areas of the park offers camping and picnicing.
Because of my sometimes really rather non-adventurous family, we only spent time at the cave. The cave requires a separate admission fee of $13.00 for adults; $11 with military ID; kids 6 - 12 $6.50 each (2012 prices). Purchase the tickets in the "Bat Pot Gift Shop." (There is also a snack bar.)
We had about a 45 minute tour of the cave which was fairly extensive saw lots of stalagmites and stalagtites including one called "Old Baldy" (because the constant rubbing of hands on it) and "The Cathedral". We learned about the cave's interesting history from our good guide who explained how the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) installed all the walkways and lightening inside the cave. Another interesting fact was how early visitors actually spent days exploring & camping down in the cave prior to these "modern" conveniences.
The park also offers special "Wild Cave" and "Off-route" tours on the weekend; stage coach and hayrides; and cowboy cookouts. I definitely think the park is worth a visit!
Park is open year round. Check website for special events, discounts, camping fees, etc.
Colossal Cave is in the Colossal Cave Mountain Park which is believed to have been home to ancient Hohokam Indians. I believe it used to be something to see, but now there is little left of it, it looks more like someone stole much of what was to be there. Now there is still an attractive portion of the natural formations: the stalactites, stalagmites and the giant columns. It has almost 39 miles of cave, but I did not even do a mile. If you have the adventurous spirit, I believe there is much this Cave offers.Officially, Colossal Cave was discovered by Soloman Lick in 1879. While searching for stray cows on the vast ranch, he accidentally came upon its narrow opening. It is this entrance that has been enlarged within a modern setting that overlooks the panoramic views of La Posta Quemada Ranch into over 2,000 acres of the mountain park
Now many would perhaps be disappointed, epecially if you have visited places like the bat caves in New Mexico.
There is also an old ranch on the grounds of the park. The La Posta Quemada Ranch now has a museum, a gift shop, and a resaerch library with an impressive collection of books about the history, people and plants of the area.
There are three other formations of note along the tour route. They are the sinkhole which is over 1500 feet deep; the altar which was used by members of the CCC when they wanted to get married; and the aptly named "Braincrusher" which hangs down in the middle of the walkway and is low enough for kids to bump their heads too, so watch out.
The last room in the tour is called the Living Room. The first guy to fully explore the cave and open it for tourism stayed in this room quite a bit and would use it as a rest stop for his longer tours.
Then you will enter the Grotto of Lost Treasures. In this wide room they also have some artifacts from the Hohokam, early settlers in the area and the Civilian Conservation Corps a group that helped prepare the cave for tourism and further study.
The first room you see on the tour is the Crystal Forest Room. It shows some stalactites (growing from the ceiling) and stalagmites (growing from the ground) and some that have grown together forming columns.
The tour of the cave costs $8.50 for adults and takes you through several rooms and shows you some different types of rock formations in the cave. Our guide was a younger guy named Adam who seemed pretty knowledgeable.
You pay the entrance fee of $5 (as of 2009) at the entrance. Then you should drive up to the visitor's center where they will give you further information about the park and its attractions. This is also where you will pay the additional $8.50 for the cave tour itself.
MORE TO COME SOON!
1900 - 1934
Colossal Cave became a popular place for adventure and exploration.
Here is gear like that used by explorers of the time. .
1880 - 1900
Outlaws holed up in Colossal Cave more than once.
Newspaper accounts of the time report that posses found belongings like these in the cave. .
900 - 1450 A.D.
Mortar's were sometimes used to powder colored clays for pigmants to paint their pottery, or sometimes they were used to grind herbs and hard coated seeds. .
900 - 1450 A.D.
Prehistoric Hohokam Indians Sheltered in Colossal Cave.
They left behind artifacts, like this metate and mano which were used to grind a variety of seeds, grains and berries for food. .
They give a flyer to the kids that visit the park and if they find all the sites on the sheet they get a prize. One of the stops is the statue of "The Cowboy", a statue done by Buck McCain.
The next stop is the Great Fault Room. The fault running through the cave (which thanfully has been inactive for some time) is over 1.5 miles long.