The Best List of Caves in Arizona
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Arizona has caves that are so beautiful you’ll be surprised to find out they’re in the desert. The caves range from easy to difficult, and some are suitable for children. We’ve compiled a list of caves in Arizona that will make your mouth water with delight!
The Best List of Caves in Arizona
Arizona is easily the most naturally beautiful state of the US and is home to several notable attractions. But are there caves in Arizona? The answer is there are many caves in Arizona, along with caverns and several cave-like environments.
However, only a tiny percentage of these are open to the public since many are fragile and would not withstand the inexperienced spelunkers moving through the delicate ecosystems. You may not encounter any strange flora or fauna that you usually see in movies, but you can enjoy a wide array of beautiful sights.
The Top Caves to Visit in Arizona
People who visit Arizona are happy with the ancient rock formations that they see here. The caves display fragile crystals, strong stones, and diverse fauna that makes your trip to the cave worthwhile.
Here are the major cave and cave systems in Arizona –
- Antelope Cave
- Bat Cave Mine
- Cave of the Bells
- Colossal Cave
- Coronado Cave
- Grand Canyon Caverns
- Kartchner Caverns
- Lava River Cave
- Onyx Cave
- Peppersauce Cave
- Skeleton Cave
- Ventana Cave
- Cave of the Domes
- The Cave-on-Cave Creek
- Cave at Fossil Creek
- Sinagua Caves
Arizona is known to have hot weather, but despite the summer heat, the caves enjoy a constant temperature of 70 degrees F throughout the year, and some of the caves get even cooler! Since it will not be possible for you to visit all the caves listed here, let’s break this down a bit into different sections for our convenience.
Best Caves in Arizona
Now we will take a deep insight into some of the best caves of the state.
Hidden Caves in Arizona
Stumbling upon hidden gems is always a fascinating experience, and you can find plenty of hidden caves in the state.
Wave Cave Trail
The 3-mile Wave Cave Trail is in Gold Canyon. A lot of visitors skip visiting the actual cave as it requires a bit of rock scrambling to access the cave. The cave is at the end of the trail, and you will enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding beautiful mountains.
Wind Cave Trail
Would you like to see the Phoenix? Then it would help if you opted for the Wind Cave Trail. Located in the Usery Mountain Regional Park, the 2.9-mile hike looks over the expanse of the East Valley. The views are lovely, and you can either return from this point or move on to explore further.
Bob Bear Trail
The Bob Bear Trail is 8.3 miles long and was formerly known as the Fossil Springs Trail. The trail leads to a magnificent waterfall that makes you believe that it belongs in a tropical rainforest. The hidden cave here is worth exploring, and the turquoise waters around it will leave you speechless!
Caves in Arizona with water
The hidden gem of Arizona or the Grand Canyon State is the cave that is located at Fossil Creek near Camp Verde. There are a waterfall and beautiful swimming holes with crystal clear waters. There is a charge of USD 6 to get the permit to be here, but since the permits are issued throughout the year, one can come at any time.
The hike to the waterfall would be around a 2-miles roundtrip, and one will come across this fascinating cave downstream away from this waterfall. The ideal best time to go here is during the fall and winter seasons, as no permits are required at that time.
Mining Caves in Arizona
Here are the major mining caves of Arizona, which we think deserve a special mention here.
The Kartchner Caverns were discovered by a couple of explorers in 1974. There are three caves in which the tours take place – the Throne Room, which has a 90-minute tour; the Big Room Tour, which takes around a couple of hours to complete and a ‘helmet and head lamp’ tour that allows the visitor to discover the cave as it was found in 1974. The cave has a temperature of 70 degrees F throughout the year with 99% humidity.
The Colossal Caves system is housed within the premises of the mountain park, which has a width of 2400 acres. The cave is laden with stalactites, helicities, and stalagmites, and you need to walk down 400 steps to get to the core. There are guided tours that will help you tour the cave. The temperature inside the cave is always 70 degrees F, and since the formations are delicate, people are not allowed to touch anything.
Natural Caves in Arizona
Grand Canyon Caverns
In 1927, the Grand Canyon Caverns were discovered by a woodcutter who hoped that the cave had gold. Well, the cave had no trace of gold, but it led to future cave exploration expeditions.
Today, you can enjoy the convenience of the lift that will take you to more than 200 ft below the earth’s surface so that you can see the dry caverns. The temperature is 56 degrees F throughout the year, with no apparent humidity. As many as five tours are conducted here with durations ranging from 25 min to 2 hours.
Lava River Cave
The Lava River Cave is basically a lava tube that extends for a mile in the Coconino National Forest. It was formed more than 700,000 years ago after a volcanic eruption. The subsequent heating and cooling led to the formation of the cave’s ceiling, floors, and walls. The temperature in the cave drops down to 35 degrees F, and, sometimes, one can even see ice formation.
Native American Caves in Arizona
Cave at the Canyon de Chelly National Monument
Several trails lead to the Chelly National Monument, but the White House Ruin Trail is the most popular one as unaccompanied hikers can take that to reach the monument. There are burial sites, tools, and caves in the Chelly Canyon. Experts believe that the area was abandoned in the 1930s, and more than 50 people used to live here.
Sand Caves in Arizona
It is not a sand cave in the true sense of the term but comes close to its formations and structure.
Antelope Canyon is home to stunningly beautiful cave-like formations, and there are two slots of the canyon – Upper Antelope Canyon and the Lower Antelope Canyon. Due to thousands of geological formations, the rock in both walls looks like flowing water, making it the most photographed sight in Arizona.
Wind Caves in Arizona
Wind Cave Trail
The Wind Cave is a part of the scenic Wind Cave Trail, which runs for 4.7 km. Located near Mesa, the trail features beautiful wildflowers and is primarily used for hiking. The dogs are also allowed on this trail, but they must be kept on a leash. The hike is a bit challenging, but there are great photo opportunities once you reach the Wind Cave.
Wild Caves in Arizona
Cave of the Bells
Located in the Coronado National Forest, the cave offers an excellent spelunking adventure. The cave’s interiors are warm, and one can also find a lake at a short distance from the entrance. Access to the cave is only through the office of the Forest Supervisor as the cave has a highly delicate environment. One needs to deposit USD 100 for getting the keys to the cave.
Cave of the Domes
There are around 1000 caves in the Grand Canyon National park, but this is the only one officially open to the public. Hiking is a must for entering this cave, and only permitted hikers are allowed to enter this cave. The caves have numerous stalagmites formations, and people should not ideally touch them.
As you can tell, the state of Arizona has a lot of caves to explore. Make certain to always be safe and prepared before entering any cave so you can make your cave experience a good one!
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