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Discover 7 Incredible Caves in Colorado

Colorado is a western U.S. state best known for its diverse landscape of mesas, canyons, high plains, forests, desert lands, plateaus, and the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. The Centennial State is much more than just river canyons and mountains— you will also find caves and caverns in its many protected spaces.

Colorado is home to a large number of caves — both natural and manmade. These caves offer awe-inspiring and beautiful sights that amaze you. However, not all are accessible throughout the seasons. From Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park to numerous caves in Rifle, here are some of our favorite caves you should consider exploring in Colorado.

Glenwood Caverns

Also known as the Fairy Caves, Glenwood Caverns is located in Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park. They were discovered in the 1890s and opened for public exploration in 1999. The caves remain the park’s top attraction and a perfect place for a family adventure. Take a 40-minute guided Fairy Caves tour and discover beautiful stalactites covered in cave popcorn and boxwork formations reflecting the pools.

Don’t miss out on the King’s Row Cave Tour, which begins in the Barn and extends up to the lower section of the cave. This trail has stunning lighted pathways, highlighting otherworldly formations, such as stalagmites, stalactites, cave bacon, and soda straws.

Yampah Spa Vapor Cave

Yampah Spa Vapor Cave is one of Glenwood springs’ most historical and unusual attractions. It’s a natural underground hot mineral water steam bath originally used by the Ute Indians for healing and rituals. So far, Yampah Spa Vapor Cave is the only one in North America that naturally offers therapeutic steam.

Yampah Spa Vapor Cavor is where stress and tension melt away effortlessly. Visitors descend a staircase, passing several partitions before entering the caverns. The cave has three adjoining underground chambers. Marble benches line each of the three rooms, where visitors can relax and inhale the healing vapors.

Fulford Cave

Fulford Cave in Eagle, Colorado, is a well-known spot for experienced spelunkers. It’s quite dark inside the cave, so it’s recommended that you bring at least a few sources of light. Cavers should be careful while trailing through the wet, slippery pathways.

The cave is closed from October 15 to April 15 every year. If you are planning to visit Fulford Cave, you must have a permit granted by the Forest Service to be allowed to enter the cave.

Cave of the Winds

Cave of the Winds is located west of Colorado Springs near the Manitou Cliff Dwellings. It’s much more than just a cave since it offers cave tours from mild to wild— it all depends on what you want. The Discovery Tour is one of the popular family-friendly tours with some of the most beautiful formations. You should take this tour if you are eager to learn more about the cave’s history and geology.

Are you looking for something more daring and spooky? Take a guided Lantern Tour for a thrilling adventure. It’s a long and deep exploration into the mountain, which most spelunkers believe it’s haunted. The pathways are completely dark, narrow with muddy floors, so you bring candlelights for illumination. Along the passageways, you will hear scary ghost folklore, stories, and other unexplained phenomena of the Manitou Grands. Lantern Tour is not for the faint-hearted.

  • Address: 100 Cave of the Winds Rd, Manitou Springs, CO 80829, United States
  • Website: Cave of the Winds
  • Phone number: +1 719-685-5444
  • Entrance fee: Varies depending on the tour. Check here for more information on Cave of the Winds tours. A Discovery Tour which explores the electrically lit portion of the cave costs:
    • $26 for adults ages 13+.
    • $17 for children ages 4-12.
    • Free for children below 3.
  • Google Maps link: Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Rifle Mountain and Rifle Falls

Rifle Mountain and Rifle Falls are located in the 48-acre Rifle Falls State Park in Garfield County, Colorado. Rifle Falls offers unmatched scenery and plenty of recreation. Catch sight of some of the common wildlife in the park, such as golden-mantled ground squirrels, coyotes, elks, and mule deer.

There are a few small caves near the falls within the limestone cliffs. The caves are not easy to explore. You will need a flashlight to help you see the inside. Be ready to crawl on your hands and knees in some sections.

Fault Cave

Fault Cave in Golden is a perfect destination for experienced spelunkers who enjoy crawling through narrow passages. This cave was formed by faults in the rocks, unlike most caves in Colorado that were curved by underground rivers several years back. Be sure to bring a flashlight as the cave isn’t naturally lit, and it’s easy to get lost inside.

It’s recommended that only experienced spelunkers should explore Fault Cave to avoid getting stuck or lost. Nevertheless, never go caving alone— regardless of whether you are an experienced spelunker.

Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine

Mollie Kathleen Gold Mine descends 1,000 feet into the mountain. It is a mine shaft located near Cripple Creek, Colorado. More than 40,000 thousand people reportedly visit this historical vertical shaft mine annually. Descend 100 stories into the earth to witness the evolution of underground mining. You may also ride on an underground tram air locomotive and experience the sight and sounds of mining equipment.

It’s important to note that Mollie Kathleen is a seasonal attraction, which often opens to the public each spring. So, you should check their availability before visiting the place.

  • Address: 9388 CO-67, Cripple Creek, CO 80813, United States
  • Website: Gold Mine Tours
  • Phone number: +1 719-689-2466
  • Entrance fee: $30 for adults, $18 for children between ages 3-12, and free for children below 2.
  • Google Maps link: Gold Mine Tours Inc.

Final Thoughts

The caving systems in Colorado will for sure impress you. Whether you are an experienced spelunker or just touring the caves and caverns to learn the state’s geology and history, the caves in Colorado have something to offer everyone. Always ensure that you have proper gear and equipment for full protection since most of these caves are dark and have narrow passages, making walking difficult.

Top image: Jason Cipriani via Flickr / Creative Commons.

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