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Ultimate Guide to Peppersauce Cave (Arizona) (Tours, Pricing, History)

Ultimate Guide to Peppersauce Cave (Arizona) (Tours, Pricing, History)

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Peppersauce Cave is a significant historic site from the 1800s, and one of Arizona’s most popular destinations for adventurous visitors. Located in eastern Arizona, Peppersauce Cave offers guided tours through an underground canyon while providing information on how the area was used by both Native Americans and early settlers.

Ultimate Guide to Peppersauce Cave (Arizona) (Tours, Pricing, History)

Peppersauce Cave is a limestone cave located in the Santa Catalina Mountains, on the back slope, south of Oracle, Arizona. It sits amidst the Coronado National Forest with access being via poorly-maintained dirt roads. The entrance of the cave is relatively natural and is situated along the side of the mountain.

Ultimate Guide to Peppersauce Cave (Arizona) (Tours, Pricing, History)


Roughly 23,000 visitors visit the cave each year over a one-mile mapped passage.

Here is the thing – with no guided tours and being so easily available – it has seen the worst of man. Peppersauce has been vandalized, littered with trash, covered with graffiti, and its stalactites were broken off decades ago. People deficated in the lake – resulting in E. Coli and coliform within the cave’s lakes. (sigh)

The good thing? In 2001, the Peppersauce Cave Conservation Project (PCCP) was established to clean up the cave and help keep it clean. A sampling conducted in January 2003 indicated that no longer were harmful bacteria were present in the water.

The group was also highly successful in removing graffiti, though the cave continues to be heavily subjected to vandalism.

WHY do people feel the need to do that? I just don’t get it – destroying what took nature centuries to create.

Peppersauce Cave Conservation Project

History of Peppersauce Cave

History has it that the Peppersauce Cave was discovered by deer hunters and brought to the public’s attention. An article was written in 1948 and published in The Desert Magazine, which saw many details being explored about the region.

The cave has an underground lake and a rock “slide,” which is a major attraction for visitors. After the two men returned from their first entry, they made the discovery known, and since then, it has become an artwork of nature.

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Peppersauce Cave Fun Facts

  • The cave was discovered by two deer hunters who made their discovery known to the public.
  • There is an underground lake in the cave, which causes the cave’s humidity to be around 70 at all times.
  • Over 23,000 visitors visit the cave each year.
  • There is a rock “slide” in the cave for those who desire to dare some blood-rushing experience.
  • To go to the base of the inner cave, there is a 15-foot ladder as there are no ropes to crawl down.
  • The entrance to Peppersauce Cave is a small hole in the side of the Santa Catalina Mountains.
  • The only road leading to the cave is a narrow track that is not too well maintained.
  • You can swim in the lake that is found in the cave to enhance your overall adventure.
  • There is a Signing Room in the cave with low ceilings stained with graffiti from those who have visited before.
  • There is a feature in the cave known as the “birthing canal,” an entrance from one room of the cave to another. However, it got its name as the passageway is usually damp, and one has to enter headway through.  
  • There is a saying the cave got its name from Alex McCay, a prospector who lost his hot sauce in the cave. Interestingly, the hot sauce seems to be lost in history as it was never spotted anywhere.
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Peppersauce Cave Wildlife

Many spelunkers and researchers who have visited the cave noted there is not much wildlife living in the area, and even if there are, they don’t generally surface too often.

There was evidence of wildlife existing in the cave back in the years, but as the years passed, and humans increased their traffic, animals decreased theirs.

Download our FREE Peppersauce Cave Guide (Unofficial)

Peppersauce Cave Geological Formations

Inside the cave is usually humid and averages over 21 degrees celsius, but rainfall and snowmelt do affect the moisture on the walls in the cave. Interestingly, the lake does flood the cave at different intervals – all the way up to the entrance – but is at a level height throughout the year.

Inside Peppersauce Cave, there are stalactites and stalagmites as water does flow along the roof and walls of the cave. It may not be the same as many other caves, but the formations in the cave do make it easy for spelunkers to admire the setting. Back in 1948, when it was originally discovered, there were lots of stalactites based on the images that surfaced of the region.

Some of the interior regions of the cave have low-hanging ceilings, and other areas are accessed only through low openings, which one has to crawl through.

You are going to get dirty climbing through here – use your smart spelunking skills and have fun.

Peppersauce Cave Tours

There are no formal tours here – as the total disregard for nature can attest to. This is a wild cave, which means that paved walkways do not exist! You will explore the cracks and crannies by walking, climbing, and crawling through natural passages.

You will need to bring at least 2 different light sources and your safety gear. Everything You Need to Know About Cave Safety Tips

Peppersauce Cave map

Peppersauce Cave Prices and Discounts

Many spelunkers and cave enthusiasts who have visited the cave noted there was no fee for entrance but the campground where they park and lodge may come with a cost. Checking these details might be important before going.

Where to Stay Near Peppersauce Cave

If you aren’t a fan of hitting the local campsite, here are a few rest places you can stop…

Mt Lemmon Hotel

The Mt. Lemmon Hotel is one of the most intriguing places to stay when staying in close vicinity to Peppersauce Cave in Arizona. It features some amazing amenities and styles to complement your stay, and you will have a memorable experience. Great staff and food and ideal for your kids and pets. It is located at 12925 N, Sabino Canyon Trail, Mt Lemon, Arizona, and can be reached at +1-520-277-2478.

Chalet Village Motel

Located at 1245 W American Ave, Oracle, Arizona, the Chalet Village Motel is a “home away from home” experience with some of the most intriguing features and amenities. You get to stay in comfort and style and staff that will ensure your stay is amazing. In addition, you get to bond with nature as the environment is quiet, serene, and entertaining.

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Peppersauce Cave Details

  • Length: Varies (The interior of the cave is diverse)
  • Time recommended: 2-3 Hours
  • Trail Type: none – it is a wild cave
  • Difficulty: Varies
  • Kid-Friendly: Yes
  • Dog-Friendly: No
  • Accessibility: Campground Parking Lot
  • Fee/Permit: none
  • Hours: Varies

How to Get to Peppersauce Cave

Finding Peppersauce Cave is relatively easy as you thread past the campground and up a narrow gravel road stretching about 2.2 miles. There is a left turn with a small bridge where you will notice a small trail. Follow it, and you will head right to the entrance of the cave!

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