Monday, January 12, 2009

Grand Canyon Caverns

One of our favorite day trips is to the Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Arizona. About 17 miles west of Seligman on Route 66, it is actually about 3 hours from Grand Canyon National Park. The Caverns get their name from the source of the fresh air that flows through them - the Grand Canyon, which is actually about 200 miles further up the road on Route 66, then I-40, then Route 64.

Being 200 feet under the earth is a leap of faith for me, I don't like to be enclosed and "trapped". But I have never had a problem with the caverns. Perhaps it is because of the airflow. We got to descend in an elevator. Original tourists, in the 1920's, got to pay 25 cents to hang off a rope with a lantern. This trip, the whole trail was open. We got to walk through all the rooms on the first and second levels, including where the giant sloth is reconstructed. One room is loaded with C rations dating from World War II: barrels and boxes of food and water, and one roll of toilet paper. Hmm... There are several more levels beneath that have not been fully explored or excavated. The privately owned caverns depend on paying their own way in developing their potential. What? No government bailouts? You gotta admire that.

These could be earlier visitors - but aren't those battery powered headlamps? In addition to the giant sloth, a popular attraction on the tour is the mummified bobcat, right next to the perfectly preserved wedding bouquets. Several weddings have taken place in the caverns. Guides will explain that the caverns were once underwater caves, and tease your imagination with visions of the creatures who might have lived there. They will point out several ancient (now dry) waterfalls, and as you leave, offer you petrified ham and eggs. Don't overdress for the tour, the caverns stay 55 degrees F year round. And don't forget you tennis shoes in the summer - you're not allowed on the tour with sandals.

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