Yesterday Dulcinea and I went to Colossal Cave to take the regular tour. She had never been there, and I had not been there since I was a teen. It is now a part of a park, with 22000 acres and a museum/ranch house. Evidently the ranch house had been a part of the cave attraction the entire time, but I didn’t remember it.
We got there early and were the only ones on our tour, which was nice because we got to chat with the tour guide – a college freshman (I think) who had been working at the cave since the beginning of summer. She had her story down, which was cool. She didn’t tell us the story that I’d heard about the daring train robbers who had stolen the gold and hidden in the cave. The story from my first trip(s) was that the gold had been lost and the robbers had gotten away. It turns out that they sheriff knew of the exit from the cave, and found the robbers and the gold at a local bar. There was a map in the gift shop showing the cave system and various tours – and the route the robbers took to get to the back door, which is now closed off.
In my earlier days, the cave only had one path – that which the CCC made. Now they have a ladder tour (a little less accessible to the general public), and two wild cave tours – which require gloves and a hard hat. According to our tour guide, there wasn’t much climbing, but a lot of bouldering (climbing over boulders). I think my brother would enjoy it, and Dulcinea though her son would like it. So – maybe we’ll go at some future date.
Colossal is a dry cave – that is, no longer growing and not the least bit damp. which is too bad. Kartchner Caverns, near Sierra Vista, is a wet cave system that has a door that seals. Colossal’s door is a barred gate – where critters can come and go as they please. We saw several bats.
The ranch house/museum was about two miles away (so we drove) and was not terribly impressive. The museum had an exhibit about the Arkenstone cave, also in the park – which is not accessible to the public and used only for research. It is a wet cave that has a lot of crystal formations. Its location is kept secret. There is an additional cave, not mentioned at either the Colossal cave site or the museum, which is also a research cave. I don’t remember the name. The tour guide at the cave said that the bottom of Colossal still had puddles, so it could be living again some year (if the climate changes drastically).
Also at the ranch house/museum was a sad petting zoo – with ponies, goats, and a mini brahma bull. All of which were standing around in mud/muck and not very happy seeming. There is also a stable, with trail rides available. The lady at the museum asked if we were going for a ride (I got the impression that she was bored out of her mind as she came to see how we were doing several times), and we said no (being in shorts). It was hot out also. She suggested that we come back at 8am to ride. Which I might do. I haven’t poked around that part of the city yet, so why not? A good trail ride can do wonders for the soul (equine therapy).
A good adventure. I’d be happy to do it again.