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One of the best things about living in Arizona is the variety of temperatures that can be experienced if you travel around the state at any time of year. As a Phoenician, I know that summertime is about finding cooler temperatures to escape the smoldering heat of the Valley of the Sun. A fun and exciting way to do that is to check out the multiple caves and caverns that our beautiful state has to offer, where average August temperatures can be a good 15-60 degrees cooler than Phoenix. Pack your sweaters and your headlamps and go explore these ancient sites!

Kartchner Caverns – Tucson

Kartchner Caverns is a “live” cave composed of limestone and is located in southeastern Arizona. This cave was not discovered until 1978 and is truly a hidden jewel that must be carefully preserved. Inside, the average temperature year-round is 72 F, with 90% humidity, so while some visitors experience it as cool and comfortable, others may find the dampness and close quarters in some parts of the cave to be anxiety producing, so be sure to consider your own temperament before visiting.  I think the payoff of visiting Kartchner Caverns is worthwhile. Its features range from delicate, straw-like stalactites with water dripping off its tips to the tallest column in Arizona named Kubla Khan; Kartchner Caverns is a sight to behold. In an effort to preserve this jewel as much as possible, these caves can only be experienced by tour.
Reserve online  (24-hours) or call (520) 586-2283.
You can call 7 days a week, from 8 am – 5 pm MST. To make same day Cave Tour reservations (based on availability) please call (520) 586-2283.

Courtesy of explorethecaverns.com

Colossal Cave – Tucson

The Colossal Cave is a massive cave in Southern Arizona that was once home to native Hohokam and Apache tribes. It extends about 600 ft deep and descends approximately 40 ft below the surface. This cave is great to explore with the family as the tour offers rich information about the geology and history of the cave as well as the fora and fauna surrounding it. There are 363 steps on this half-mile tour, but the temperature is a moderately cool and dry 70° F. Tours are offered 7 days a week with no scheduled times, but they usually run every thirty minutes. Plan your trip here.

Courtesy of sunset.com

Grand Canyon Caverns – Peach Springs

Located about six hours from southern California, 2.5 hours from Phoenix or Las Vegas, and 1.5 hours from Laughlin, Lake Havasu or Williams, the Grand Canyon Caverns are considered dry as they have not had water flowing through them in the last several million years. This is rare in the world of caverns as only 3 out of every 100  caverns are dry. Grand Canyon Caverns is a natural limestone cavern 210 feet underground and the largest dry cavern in the U.S. You enter and leave the caverns by means of an elevator.
The guided tours are 45 minutes and 3/4 mile long. Tours depart every half hour daily except Christmas Day. Group rates are available book your trip by calling 928-422-4565

Courtesy of www.thegrandcanyonnationalpark.com

Shaman’s Cave – Sedona

As legend has it, early explorers of AZ described this area as “a perfect hideout…a box canyon in no-man’s-land” which has earned this cave near Sedona the nickname Robbers’ Roost (not to be confused with Robbers’ Roost in Canyonlands National Park in Utah), even though it’s unclear whether any bad guys ever actually hid here. But clearly, someone was up there, as evidenced by the impressive ruin that awaits hikers with an adventurous spirit. From this site, you can take catch a glimpse of Sedona through a near-perfect 6 foot circular window cut out of rock. The ruins contain a large room, approximately 20 feet long, 40 feet wide and 15 feet high, and open on one side. It has a magical quality that has earned it’s popular name of Shaman’s Cave, and has many spiritual seekers venturing upon this moderately difficult and unmarked trail. I suggest you contact one of the vortex guides in Sedona to help you hike to Shaman’s Cave, as well as aid you in feeling the “woo-woo” effects of it’s energetic reputation.
DIRECTIONS: Take 89A south of the “Y,” approximately 9.5 miles and turn right on Red Canyon Rd. (FR 525). Continue ahead, then turn left onto FR 525C; drive until you see an unpaved road marked FR 9530. Continue on FR 9530 to the parking area at the top of the hill. From there, continue by foot approximately one mile to Robbers’ Roost. A Red Rock Pass is required for parking.

Courtesy of spiritualtravelers.com

 

Lava River Cave – Flagstaff

This cave is a little off the beaten path but it’s definitely no secret to travelers and there is often a lot of people in this cave. Trust me, you will feel better when you know you’re not alone in this dark, cold, underground lava tube. It is a short 1.5 mile hike and the average temperature in the cave is around 40° F. Sometimes there is even ice in the summer, so definitely bring a sweater!

No reservations required. Call 928-526-0866, located at Forest Service Rd 235 Flagstaff, AZ 86001.

From Flagstaff, go northwest on US 180 to mile marker 230 (9 miles). Turn left (W) on FR 245 and follow it 3.6 miles to its intersection with FR 171. Turn left (S) on FR 171 and go 1.0 miles to FR 171B. Follow this .25 miles until its end. The cave entrance is 300 yards east of the end of the road. Look for a large circle of rocks that mark the cave entrance.

Courtesy of www.trailspace.com

If you want to make a weekend out of it, find other things to do, places to stay and where to eat in the Grand CanyonFlagstaff and  Sedona.


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