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Colossal Cave
Colossal Cave is a dry cave that is open to the public. It has a year-round temperature of 70 degrees. Upon entering the cave, visitors are greeted by the pungent odor of bat guano, but the smell soon fades as visitors go deeper into the cave. The basic tour lasts 45-50 minutes and covers a distance of approximately 1/2 mile. During the course of this tour, visitors are taken to locations with exotic names such as Crystal Forest, Kingdom of the Elves, Bottomless Pit, Grotto of the Lost Treasures, Hall of Time, the Silent Waterfall, Cathedral Room, and more.
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For Families:

The cave is worth seeing, and the tours are enjoyable. There are a few locations where parents should hold small children close, since there are some pretty deep dropoffs, like the Bottomless Pit.

Colossal Cave is a great cave for children since you don't have to be ultra-paranoid that the kids will touch the walls or formations and damage them.


Since the cave is much more extensive, special tours are available to visit other sections of the cave. The Ladder Tour follows some of the routes the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) used when building the walkways and other routes in the 1930s. The Wild Cave Tour takes small groups through undeveloped parts of the cave.

At the cave levels visited by the main tour, the cave is dry (dead). The formations are no longer growing, but they are still pretty. Visitors will pass by dry ponds, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, helictites, and other locations where one can peer off into the spaces.

Colossal Cave lives up to its name. The CCC mapped an estimated 30+ miles of passages in the cave, and it is believed that the cave may have over 38 miles of passages. Since the entire cave has not been mapped, the entire extent of the cave is not known.

Two additional caves are located within the confines of the park. These are Arkenstone Cave and La Tetera. Since both of these caves are live, they are currently off-limits to the public.

In addition to cave tours, the Park also has a Butterfly Garden, trail rides, picnic areas, and a desert tortoise exhibit.

Colossal Cave has a long and colorful history. Various ancient artifacts have been found in the caves, and some of these are on display in the Visitor's Center. Colossal Cave is perhaps most famous for being a hideout for robbers. According to the story, in 1884 four train robbers stopped the Southern Pacific and made off with an estimated $62,000. A posse pursued them, and the robbers temporarily escaped by hiding out in the cave. When the posse found the hideout, they stood guard at the entrance while the robbers slipped out another entrance — the back door. Soon after they escaped from the cave, three of the robbers where killed. The remaining robber was captured and sent to Yuma Territorial Prison for 28 years. After being turned loose in 1912, Wells Fargo sent detectives to follow him in an effort to recover the money. They were able to follow him to Tucson and then to Colossal Cave. Thereafter the trail went cold when he gave the detectives the slip. Empty money bags were all that were found, and the robber was never seen again.

Colossal Cave is located in Southern Arizona. Exit 279 (Vail) of I-10, south of Tucson. Follow the signs to the caves. You can see the Colossal Cave website here.


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