If you’re out exploring a state, you’d probably think the best way to do it is by climbing the highest point in Tucson and screaming “I made it!” at the summit. While that’s not exactly a bad idea, don’t you think it’s time to switch things up a bit? Dig deep to your inner adventurer and check out these cool underground attractions in Arizona:
1. Kartchner Caverns
Explore the world of mysterious waves by visiting the Kartchner Caverns. It is home to gigantic rock formations, gravity-defying helictites, rimstone dams, stalagmites, and stalactites.
If you want to visit, you should take note that the place has an average temperature of 70° Fahrenheit or 21° Celsius. In addition, it experiences 99% humidity all year-round. Exploring these caverns also means you need to be ready to navigate dimly lit and narrow passages. But of course, a little darkness can’t stop you from exploring such a beautiful place, right?
The Kartchner Caverns tours range from $23 to $30 for adults, $23 to $30 for children aged 7 to 13, and free or $5 for children under 7. You may choose from the Rotunda/Throne Tour, Big Room Tour, Sign Language Tour, Head Lamp Tour, and Photo Tour.
Location: 2980 S Hwy 90, Benson, Arizona (9 mi. South of Benson on Hwy 90)
2. Grand Canyon Caverns
The Grand Canyon Caverns is one of the best underground attractions in Arizona. There’s just no beating the experience of being 200 feet below the ground. Back in the 1960s, this wonderful attraction was appointed as a fallout shelter for the presumed upcoming nuclear holocaust.
Today, you can visit the place if you want to casually chill in the largest, quiet-est, and darkest motel in the world. If you think about it, it’s such an awesome experience because booking your stay means you don’t get just the room, you also get to explore all of the caverns. You are also free to explore the place if you’re curious.
Another option (one that doesn’t involve an overnight stay) includes a guided tour of the caverns, which already includes lunch at The Grotto.
Location: Mile Marker 115 Route 66, Peach Springs, Arizona
3. Titan Missile Museum
Need a bit of history in your exploration? Why not visit the Titan Missile Museum, a one-of-a-kind museum that takes its guests back on the front line of the Cold War. This is the last of the 54 Titan II missile sites that were on alert across the United States from 1963 to 1987. This is a historic place, and you can even get a glimpse of the launch control center and the missile in the launch duct. It’s so exciting. Plus, this was once one of America’s most top-secret places. You shouldn’t pass up the chance to visit this cool place.
Location: 1580 W. Duval Mine Rd. Sahuarita, Arizona
4. Colossal Cave
There are some people who think living underground is a cool idea. We can’t really blame them since these places have a steady 70-degree inner temperature year-round. And if you’re in Arizona, that’s probably the best thing ever. Enter Colossal Cave. An underground paradise that will delight you with its history, unique geology, and interesting history (let’s just say there are legends about train robbers and ghosts here).
You can take the Classic Cave Tour, Ladder Tour, Wild Cave Tour, or even the Toddler Time Tour for your little ones.
Location: 16721 E. Old Spanish Trail Vail, Arizona
5. Lava River Cave
Be fascinated by this wonderful hike that takes you through the secret one-mile-long lava tube in Arizona! Lava River Cave is famous for the ultimate pitch-black adventure it gives its visitors. The lava tube actually dates back 700,000 years ago when a volcanic vent nearby Hart Prairie erupted and spew molten rock over this place. All sides of the flow just cooled down and solidified. Then, the insides of the lava river continued to flow, emptying the present cave.
This is one of the coolest underground attractions in Arizona, but it’s also very dark (not an understatement). If you want to visit, you should prepare at least 3 sources of light.
Location: 171B Forest Rd, Flagstaff, Arizona (14 miles north of Flagstaff on paved highways and graveled Forest Roads)
6. Antelope Canyon
The desktop background in real life, Antelope Canyon, is not really a cave per se. But it boasts such stunning cave-like formations that will keep you in awe. There are two slots of the canyon, the “Upper Antelope Canyon,” and the “Lower Antelope Canyon.” No matter which slot you visit, we’re sure you’ll be happy to see the beautiful geological formations that look like flowing water. It’s just picturesque!
Go down the slot canyons and make sure to take lots of photos of the wave-like structures and light beams that shine down into the openings. The towering canyon walls will make you feel like you’re deeper to the earth than you actually are.
Location: Antelope Canyon Tribal Park Page, Arizona 86040 (a few miles Southeast of Page, on US Highway 98, and near the Arizona/Utah border)
7. Cave House
There’s a good chance you might have already heard of the Chulo Canyon Cave House, or simply the Cave House, from local news. This is a one-of-a-kind house in Bisbee that is nestled into the side of a granite boulder. It was artificially created by mining engineers and plenty of ammonium nitrate. This impressive home gets great weather all year round, thanks to the temperature that never dips any lower than sixty-six degrees Fahrenheit.
It is pretty luxurious for a cave house and even has workshop space, home office, library, guest house, and carport. You can also find an eight-person dining room, sunken living room, and a cool sleeping loft!
Location: 3204 W Highway 80, Bisbee, Arizona 85603
8. Peppersauce Cave
Okay, before you react, the name of the attraction is a real thing. It really is “Peppersauce.”
Here’s the deal. This is not like Grand Canyon Caverns, Colossal Cave, or other caves you’re used to going. You need to be ready (and willing) to crawl in mud and dirt, and go through tight and small spaces. If you don’t like that, we suggest you should just visit other underground attractions in Arizona. Still, this is a great place to explore and definitely makes for a fun adventure. Remember to bring a flashlight, hiking shoes and helmet if you plan to go!
Location: Oracle, Arizona
9. Coronado Cave
Cave safely and softly at the Coronado Cave, an underground beauty with quite a mysterious aura. It was first opened to the public in 1978, but people didn’t really explore it that much. It was more likely used as a shelter for various groups up to 8,000 years prior. This cave spans 600 feet and measures about 70 feet wide in most spots. You need to have multiple sources of light you plan to go down this cave but it is a pitch-black abyss.
Location: Coronado National Forest (Go to East Montezuma Canyon Rd. Arizona, then .25 mile west of the visitor center on the north side of the road is the trail parking area. It is .5 mile to the cave entrance)
10. Copper Queen Mine
Caves are not the only cool underground attractions in Arizona. It also includes a mining site, such as Copper Queen Mine, the famous mine that led to the growth of the surrounding town of Bisbee. Back in the 1880s, the orebody of this mine ran 23% copper, an extraordinarily high grade. You can be one of its many visitors who descend for the tour and go back in time to relive the mining days, techniques, dangers, and drama!
Location: 478 N Dart Rd, Bisbee, Arizona 85603
Which among these underground attractions in Arizona have you been to? We can’t wait for you to tell us all about your experience! Once you’re done, you can just hit the road and be on the lookout for these amazing roadside destinations.
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