grand canyonCAVES AND CAVING

Grand Canyon Caves and Caving

Grand Canyon Caves 

The Grand Canyon is full of Caves. Almost of all of these caves are in the Redwall Limestone, thousands of feet below the rim of the Canyon.  When water from the rim leaches down through the layers of the Grand Canyon, Carbonic Acid eats away the limestone forming the canyons many caves. This same process formed caves outside the park like Grand Canyon Caverns, a great adventure close to the Grand Canyon. Exploring caves in Grand Canyon National Park is very restricted and nearly all caves require special permission to visit. There are good reasons the park has these regulations, but the main issues are protecting archeologically, and biologically sensitive resources found in the caves.  With a lack of resources to explore and monitor caves systems within the canyon this probably won’t change any time soon.  Typically, the only people who get permission are members of Caving Organizations who will agree to do mapping of unexplored areas for the Park in return for being granted permission. The Grand Canyons Park Hydrologist is currently the person who makes the call on access to Grand Canyons subterranean world or check out Grand Canyon National Parks cave information page for NPS regulations and additional information. Read the guide below to learn more.

More about Grand Canyon Caves

Caves in Grand Canyon National Park

The most popular cave, and the only cave in the Park visitors are allowed to legally access without special permission is Cave of the Domes.  This cave is a difficult 3.5-mile hike down the Grandview Trail and across Horseshoe Mesa to a small entrance about .3 miles off the trail (you won’t find this without directions).  Two additional well know caves are Tapeats Cave and Thunder River Cave which are located below the North Rim of the Canyon off a rugged backcountry trail. Cave of the Domes was temporarily closed in 2016, but is now re-opened to the public. Please be careful to protect this important resource if you visit the cave.

Grand Canyon Caverns

Located near the West Rim of the Grand Canyon outside Seligman Arizona, Grand Canyon Caverns is the largest dry cave in the US. Grand Canyon Caverns offers several unique experiences including guided walking tours and more adventurous caving trips. There is even a hotel room available inside the cave. Although Grand Canyon Caverns is not inside Grand Canyon National Park, it’s close to West Rim attractions and a really cool stop for canyon travelers and cave enthusiasts.

Caves near the Grand Canyon

If you’re really into caves and want to include this as part of your Grand Canyon vacation, there are several great Caves near Grand Canyon National Park. Right down the Road from the South Rim of Grand Canyon is Lava River Caves outside of Flagstaff, AZ. This Lava Tube is in Coconino National Forest is anywhere from 3 to 30 feet high and requires a self-guided hike to access it. Although it’s a bit of a drive from the canyon, Kartchner Caverns is one of the most amazing caves in the country. Kartchner Cavern is almost 2.5 miles long and has 13,000 feet of passages, so if that sound like something you want to check out go to Arizona State Parks website to learn more.  Some other nearby caves are Colossal Cave and Coronado Cave in Southern Arizona.

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