It was an early morning for the Prince family. We left home (southern california) and arrived at the Grand Canyon Caverns around 2pm via Route 66. We picked up a little rainstorm as we passed through the California/Arizona border.
We found Peach Springs, Arizona which was a total scene out of “Radiator Springs” (Cars The Movie). We followed the back road to the Caverns entrance and parked in the muddy lot wondering if the rain would let up and allow us to camp onsite that evening.
There was hardly anyone around. We thought, “This is either a hidden gem, or people just didn’t want to travel here during the rain.” Either way, we were in the moment and really enjoyed this little-known destination. We ate a nice bbq lunch at the diner, perused the store and chatted with the tour guide until it was our turn to head underground down the 21-story elevator into the caverns.
There was a little anxiety, but our guide was good at keeping us calm. The temperature dropped and the air was crisp. We were amazed at the size of the caverns and it was only the beginning of our trek from the elevator.
So here we are surrounded by limestone walls that are 65 million years old, we come to a large open area (the size of 2 football fields) with 75-foot ceilings. Then we learned that you can stay the night down there! The world’s largest, deepest, darkest, oldest, quietest motel suite! There was a full-on bedroom with a couple double beds, a living room, a collection of vintage books and magazines, a functioning record player, a bathroom, and a theater. It was dark, but lit up with some colorful gel uplighting.
Because the caverns are so deep underground, the temperature is always constant and there is zero humidity. The air you breathe travels through cracks in the limestone all the way from the Grand Canyon—a process that purifies and preserves. Staying the night would require one person to drink a lot of water.
There has been some reported “paranormal activity” down there. Over the last half century 8 people have died or been buried on or in the caverns property, and another 4 have spent their lives and have had huge emotional ties of a lifetime in the Caverns. Unexplained ghost and paranormal sightings have been recorded and witnessed by employees and guest alike. The most popular sighting is seeing a man, believed to be ghost of Walter Peck at the top and bottom of the elevator shaft, opening the doors at different times.
But the paranormal activity wasn’t the most fascinating thing about the Caverns to us—it was the Civil Defense supplies stored deep within. The caverns were designated an official fall out shelter for up to 2000 people in the 1960’s. There are still piles of food and water left in the caverns.
There were also other phenomenons we encountered including a mummified bobcat that died around 1850 and the life-size ground sloth stuffed model named “Gertie.” She stands 15′ 4″ tall and would have weighed at least 2,000 pounds. There was enough of the skeletal remains of the Glossotherium Harlani (extinct giant ground sloth) found to determine height and weight. This animal lived and died during the Age of Mammals, when the Woolly Mammoth and the Saber-Tooth Tiger walked the earth.
This little adventure was a great example of seeing things in-between the giant monuments. If you’re heading through western Arizona, make this detour when you’re passing Kingman or Seligman. Next time we go, we want to visit the Havasuipai Reservation as well.
We ended up hitting the road in seek of dry shelter that evening. When we came out of the Caverns, we knew it was going to be a wet night. 22 miles down Route 66, we rested in Seligman, Arizona.