To the southeast side of Tucson lie the Rincon Mountains. Along the
south portion of the Rincons is Colossal Cave Mountain Park. The cave
itself is a dry cave with a long history wandering into the dim ages
past. Scientists believe that Indians used the cave as far back as
1100 years ago. Hohokam and Apache artifacts were found there and
in 1917 two skeletons identified as Indians were discovered in the
cave. Open since 1930, it is host to thousands of visitors a year.
A dry cave? What is a dry cave? Most caves have experienced two types
of water activity. One is the condition that hollowed out the cave
in the first place and the second, and far more subtle, is the slow
continual dripping of water with its varied minerals that create the
stalactite and stalagmite. When that stops, the cave becomes what
is known as a dry cave. Want to know how to remember which is from
the ground up and from the ceiling down? Well.. as the mites go up,
the tights come down.
Even on a hot summer day, the temperature in the cave stays between
70° and 71°. There are many openings to the cave, which causes
a steady cooling airflow. About 2 miles of passageways have been explored
but it is believed that there is more to the cave. Many passageways
are too small to enter or have been cut off completely. The cave itself
is currently about 600 feet deep and drops about 40 feet below the
entrance. The tour is about one-half mile.
For the adventuresome, there are some tours that can be taken into
difficult but amazing areas of the cave. They are not considered to
be safe for the average person and hard hats are required. There is
also a candlelight tour of the cave for people aged 10 and over. It
is by reservation only.
As there are many steps to climb when viewing the cave, it is not
advised to take strollers or people who have trouble walking.
During the cooler months, Colossal Cave is a great place to spend
time visiting the gift shop and having a meal at the excellent restaurant
or just sitting in the ramada and taking in the beautiful scenery.
You can also enjoy the Bat Garden with desert plants that are pollinated
by nectar feeding bats.
Speaking of bats (doesn't every cave need at least a few bats?),
there are seven types that live in the cave. Some are seasonal visitors
and others are homesteaders. Sorry, no vampire bats! They live in
Central Mexico and South America.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park expanded about 10 years ago taking in
La Posta Quemada Ranch which is a working ranch with a headquarters
house which is part museum, library and gift shop. Additionally there
are riding trails from the stables as well as walking paths. The ranch
also has picnic areas and a few places where people can rough camp
overnight. Hay rides, stagecoach rides and cookouts can also be arranged.
It's a good place to get a true feel of the old west.
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