Colorado has something special for everyone. The beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the intrigue of the rushing streams and rivers, and the ghost towns sprinkled throughout the state, to name a few. It should not be a surprise that Colorado also offers some of the most incredible caves and caverns you can explore to your heart’s content. Maybe it is time to find your spelunking gear and prepare for some cave explorations.
Cave of the Winds
This cave is one of the most frequently visited in the state. It was discovered more than 100 years ago, in the 1880s. Located in the Pikes Peak region, it is just west of Colorado Springs on U.S. Highway 24. As you walk from room to room, you will be amazed at their sizes. Some of them soar 89 feet in height. One of the most spectacular sections is the Silent Splendor room. Many rare crystalline speleothems appear to defy gravity laws as they grow in strange directions. There are two cave tours from which to choose. The Discover Tour provides information on the history and geology, and you see some of the most beautiful formations. The Lantern Tour is more daring and spooky. You journey inside with just a handheld lantern to light your way – be careful what may sneak up behind you!
Rifle Mountain Park
A visit to Rifle Mountain Park will offer you a magical experience. The time to visit, of course, is when the waterfalls freeze. You can then explore the backside of two frozen falls and view the gorgeous, crystalline blue ice that coats the ground and walls of these magnificent ice caves. These caves form between December and February. The ice does not completely melt until well into the summer. When you enter the magical wonderland of lower and upper ice caves, be careful of the floor of ice – obviously, it is very slippery. Then go and enjoy the blue hues and the glittering spires, and all of the other wonders this park will offer you.
Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine
In terms of an exceptional cave exploration, check out the Mollie Kathleen, located in Cripple Creek. The old vertical mine shaft drops 1,000 feet into the mountain. The depth of the mine is nearly as tall as the Empire State Building. Don a hard hat, then get inside the cave elevator and begin your underground exploration. The ride offers a lot of shake, rattle, and roll but arrives at your destination in about two minutes. Then the real excitement begins. You will witness the evolution of underground mining. You will see gold veins in their natural state. You will tour the tunnels. It is your opportunity to explore and learn how mines work
Located near Meeker in the White River National Forest, you might find this a somewhat challenging hike. You will first walk through a forest of some blue spruce and aspen trees and then stumble into Spring Cave. You experienced spelunkers will be delighted with the many tunnels and one of the most extensive waterways found underground in the state. Spring Cave is one of the least explored cave systems in the state. It is open from mid-April to mid-August, and exploration requires experienced explorers who are bold and confident enough to tackle its boundless caverns.
Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves
You will find Yampah Spa & Vapor Caves, another of Colorado’s caves and caverns, located a short distance from Glenwood Caverns. Considered as an unusual attraction, it is also one of the most historical of the Colorado caves. The Ute Indians first used the caves for healing and rituals. The caves are just one of a few known natural vapor caves in North America that provide therapeutic steam. Guests descend a staircase. Next, they go through some partitions before entering the caverns. There are three different chambers, and each is lined with marble benches. The seats allow you to relax and inhale the healing vapors. Former visitors proclaim these hot springs offer a deep calm making them worth traveling from anywhere you might be.
If you travel to Glenwood Springs, you will want to visit Glenwood Caverns. Not only will you discover a cave system, but, uniquely, you will also be able to go on a roller coaster ride, an alpine coaster, a canyon swing, a mine drop, and many other rides. Yes, the caverns are also home to an awesome adventure park. What also makes Glenwood Caverns unique is that it is located on top of a mountain. Inside, you can visit King’s Row, the most highly decorated cave room in Colorado. You get there by climbing down 127 steps. If you need to rest during the decline, there are platforms for viewing and resting. You will most likely see many troglobites. These are insects and spiders that spend their entire life underground. You will be fascinated with all these caverns have to offer. If you must wait a while for the next cave tour, you can bide your time by enjoying some of the thrill rides in the adventure park – if you have the courage go ahead and try the new Haunted Mine Drop!
Colorado has some unique caves and caverns to visit, so be sure to add these to your list of Colorado places to go to next!