June 8, 2018 Peach Springs – Seligman
Not long after we left the Hualapai Lodge and Tourism Center we arrived at Grand Canyon Caverns, at 115 Mile Marker AZ-66, Peach Springs, AZ 86434.This dry, limestone cavern was discovered in 1927 and extends about 200-300 feet below the surface. An elevator takes visitors down 21 stories to tour the caves, but in its early days, people paid 25 cents to be LOWERED, one by one, down into the cave by a hand-operated winch!
The temperature is a constant 56°F with zero humidity.
We were offered two tours – the “short” tour and the “regular” tour. We didn’t want to stay too long and besides, the longer tour requires climbing 70 stairs as well as some tricky maneuvering, so we opted for the short tour. The regular tour is more spectacular, including the massive Chapel of Ages, large enough to hold two football fields, so I would recommend that tour for anyone physically able and willing to do it. For the more adventurous, there are three additional tours, the Wild Tour, The Explorer Tour and the Ghost Walk Tour. You can find out more about the tours and the caverns in general here.
For $15.95 (no senior discount) each, we got a 25 minute tour. We saw a few interesting formations, such as the teacup handle
Helectite – a rare form of selenite crystal; popularly known as a “teacup handle.”
and geodes, like this one jutting out from the limestone surface.There are few stalactites or stalagmites, as you would expect in a cave;
One of the few stalagmites in the cave
these kinds of formations need water to grow in size and Grand Canyon Caverns are dry. There are no bats living in the caverns either.
In fact, although some fossils were found when the caves were first explored (from a ground sloth), no animals are known to reside in the cavern.
- This T-Rex jaw was NOT found in Grand Canyon Caverns!
The most unique feature of Grand Canyon Caverns is that events have taken place and continue to take place down there. There was a newspaper article on display about a couple who got married in the Chapel of Ages. (I would be afraid of tripping or snagging my wedding dress!)
The Grotto Restaurant is an actual café set up inside the cavern. To have lunch there costs $50 per person!
Besides this restaurant, there are accommodations for up to 6 people to stay overnight, as in a hotel room. Except that at night it gets COMPLETELY dark, so flashlights are furnished! There is a TV, but no reception – however, you can watch DVDs.
The web site states that there is a library of old books and magazines such as a National Geographic collection dating back to 1917. There is also a bathroom! (The plumbing must have been tricky to install…).
Concerts and plays used to be performed in the cavern, and occasionally an event is still held there. There is a stage and auditorium seats.
The Grand Canyon Caverns website tells the history of the caverns – quite interesting – and if you take the tour, you will also hear about Walter Peck, the discoverer of the caverns with dreams of finding gold.
The town of Seligman (Exit 123 off I-40) was our next destination. There are several Route 66 attractions in Seligman. First was the Roadkill Café (22830 West Route 66), which serves burgers, steaks and ribs (not roadkill!) with a décor of animal dioramas and mounted hunting trophies.
We explored the rest of the main drag of Seligman. Along this street are a series of touristy “Old West” type buildings…
and rusty, broken down farm equipment,
a broken down truck with a cactus growing inside…
and of course, old cars.
More touristy shops and such…
including the Rusty Bolt Gift Shop 22345 West Route 66), with female mannequins in front and on the roof, vintage signs, and an Elvis statue.
The temperature was about 95°F and after all this sightseeing and snapping photos, we decided to go to Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-in (301 E. Route 66) for a cold milk shake.
Instead of ordering drive-in style, you now enter and order at this counter.
After we left Seligman, we headed for Flagstaff, which has a number of national monuments nearby with ancient pueblo ruins at Wupatki National Monument and Walnut Canyon National Monument, and natural features, such as Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument. We did not stop at any of these, since we had seen most of them on an earlier trip to Arizona years before, and instead got off Route 66 for a couple of days to attend a 70th anniversary reunion at my high school, Verde Valley School, in Sedona.
I’ll continue our Route 66 journey two days later, when we got back on the Mother Road.