Caves in Arizona

Top 10 Best Caves in Arizona

Top 10 Best Caves in Arizona

Best Caves in Arizona – Caveman excursions, also known as spelunking, can be an exciting and sometimes dangerous venture.

In Arizona, you can find caves formed by water, ancient lava flows, or wind and sand erosion. Some cave systems are inside state parks, and others are available on public land. (Caves in Arizona)

The great thing about visiting caves in Arizona is the climate inside them! Most of these caves have the same pleasant temperatures year-round, even when it’s rising over 100 degrees outside. This makes spelunking the perfect activity to do any time of year.

If you are afraid of closed spaces or afraid of the dark, then visiting these caves might not be for you.

However, if you prefer some adventure mixed with adrenaline, visiting some of Arizona’s cavernous, dark, and damp vacations should be on your bucket list.

  • Kartchner Caverns State Park

They were discovered in 1974 by two friends exploring limestone cliffs in the area; the cavernous halls of Kartchner Caverns did not become known until 1988 when the owners of the land surrounding the cave system sold their property to the state of Arizona. It was then made into a state park to preserve the caves forever.

Visiting the caves requires a pre-reserved guided tour. The tours take about three hours to complete, but since the caves are at a constant 70 degrees and 100% humidity, you can visit these caves even on the hottest summer day.

A closer look at the various travertine rock formations gives you an appreciation of the geology, and the time it took to build these spindles and towers.

The Discovery Center is a great place to visit for those who are claustrophobic and don’t want to go underground in the caves.

At this visitor center, you can learn about the caves’ history and the processes by which caves, such as the Kartchner Caverns, are formed.

These travertine rock formations form over thousands of years and are very fragile. A touch with a wayward hand can cause permanent damage to the cave system, so be cautious and respectful when traveling!

Kartchner Caverns State Park also offers hiking trails, camping, wildlife viewing, and cabins for rent.

Address: 2980 AZ-90, Benson, AZ 85602

Entry Fee: $7 per vehicle, extra for cave tours

  • Giant Cave Mountain Park

A cave system in the southeast of Tuscan is so vast it certainly lives up to its name. Used as a shelter by ancient people and rediscovered by settlers in the late 1800s, the area around the caves was preserved as a park in the 1930s.

Guided tours are available each day for a different fee, depending on which time you choose. The most popular is the cave tour, which is family-friendly and doesn’t require any special equipment.

The stair tour requires more physical activity as you move up the ladder, down, into the center of the cave system.

The most thorough and intense (pun intended) tour is the 3.5-hour long Wild Cave Tour. Get ready to get dirty, as this tour will take you through tight niches, pitch-black tunnels, and narrow passageways. This tour is not for the weak or the claustrophobic!

If caves aren’t your thing, but you’re traveling with other people who want to explore caves, don’t worry! Above ground are miles of trails for hiking, trail running, and mountain biking.

There is also guided horseback riding on the trails. Bring a picnic too and enjoy the desert landscape.

At sunset, thousands of bats emerge from the caves during certain times of the year. Half of Arizona’s bat species use the giant cave as a home or pathway during migration.

Address: 16721 E Old Spanish Trail, Vail, AZ 85641

Entry Fee: None, but cave tours are $20-$125.

  • Lava River Cave

Formed about 700,000 years ago by a flowing river of lava from one of Flagstaff’s volcanoes, this cave is a mile long and an easy walk for most skill levels.

The tube was formed when the outer and lower sides of the flow first hardened, then lava continued to flow in the middle and finally emptied.

The cave is excellent year-round, between 35-45 degrees even in summer, so bring a jacket! Rocks are sharp and slippery, so always wear appropriate footwear.

It is also recommended to bring in three light sources, as it tends to be pitch black at the end of the cave. Turn your lights off at the very end to experience some of the deepest darkness you’ve ever experienced.

Located only 30 miles from Flagstaff, roads can be closed in winter, so always check conditions beforehand.

You can even ski at the Lava River Cave if there is enough snow. The Lava River Cave tour is an excellent addition to any Flagstaff trip. (Best Caves in Arizona)

Address: 171B One Road, Flagstaff, AZ 86001

Entry Fee: None

  • Peppersauce Caves

Formed by limestone (like most caves in Arizona), this cave system is located about 10 miles northeast of Tucson from Oracle, Arizona.

There are no official tours to these caves or parking lots, but there is a sign near the road pointing you to the entrance.

Entering the cave requires a flick through a narrow entrance. Headlamps are a must, and non-slip shoes are encouraged as well. The rocks of this cave are wet and smooth!

Even in summer, the temperature inside remains constant at 70 degrees. Do not enter the shelter if it is going to rain, as the water level inside can rise to dangerous levels.

Once you’re inside the entrance, you’ll find a 15-foot ladder that you’ll need to climb down to reach the “birth canal,” a small hole you have to go through your belly. . Wear clothes that can get wet and dirty as there is no way to stay clean in these caves!

After going through a few other structures and features, you’ll find yourself in the “signature room,” which is mostly dry with a low-sloping roof. There is usually a notebook and pen to sign the names of people commemorating the cave crossing.

Other parts of Peppersauce Cave are less explored, but sticking with the main sections will help you stay safe on your spelunking adventure! (Best Caves in Arizona)

  • Address: 10.4 miles from Oracle on Mount Lemon Road
  • Entry Fee: None
  1. Coronado Cave

It is a much smaller and more accessible cave than the other caves on this list, located near the Mexico-Arizona border. A free permit is required to visit the cave, which you can pick up at the visitor center.

Coronado Cave is about 600 feet long and 70 feet wide in some parts, and to get from one room to another, some crawling may be required. The entrance hike can be challenging, with a 500-foot climb in just half a mile.

Once inside, feel free to explore and enjoy the many stalagmites and stalactites, pillars of rock formed by dripping water over thousands of years. Wearing sturdy shoes and gloves is recommended to avoid damaging the cave walls. (Best Caves in Arizona)

  • Address: At W Montezuma Canyon Road, south of Hereford, AZ
  • Entry Fee: None
  1. Grand Canyon Caverns

As the name suggests, this cave is located near the Grand Canyon. The limestone walls of this cave system are also of the same geology as the higher walls of the canyon. It was discovered by modern people in 1927 and was officially preserved in the 1960s.

The ancient history of this cave is fascinating; There is evidence that older adults used it as a shelter, and even a fossil skeleton of a long-extinct giant sloth was found near the natural entrance.

Grand Canyon Caverns also has the distinction of being the largest dry cave in the United States, as most of the caves are still active with dripping water.

You can pay for four different tours, from beginner to advanced levels. The more advanced level tour requires gear and takes you into the deepest gorge of the cave, which visitors rarely visit.

The beginner tour is accessible for all ages and levels and allows you to explore large cave areas quickly.

If you’re visiting the Grand Canyon and want to add a little more adventure to your trip, Grand Canyon Caverns is an excellent choice. Camping sites, cabins, and bunkhouses are conveniently located nearby. (Best Caves in Arizona)

  • Address: Route 66 Mile Marker 115, Peach Springs, AZ
  • Fee: Varies; For camping, cabin, and cave tours, visit
  1. Wave Cave

This small cave is at the end of a popular Arizona hike on the southwest side of Superstition Mountain.

It is so named because of a rock formation inside the cave that looks like a wave on the sea’s edge. It’s big enough to stand on and makes for a fun photo opportunity.

The climb to Wave Cave is 3 miles round trip and is rated as brutal, climbing over 860 feet on the way up.

The final climb up to the cave is particularly steep, requiring you to use your hands sometimes. Once you’ve made the top, it’s much more than worth it! Wave Cave is big enough for many groups to escape the Arizona sun.

Be careful when going down, as it is very steep with loose gravel. Always check the weather and avoid doing this hike on the hottest summer days. Wave Cave makes for a fun yet challenging walk with lovely views to the top. (Best Caves in Arizona)

  • Address: Peralta Trailhead, Gold Canyon
  • Parking Fee: $15
  1. Onyx Cave

This cave is challenging to reach, but if you work, you can keep the entire cave system with you for several hours.

Escabrosa Grotto, Inc. Company privately holds Onyx Cave, and you must mail in your request at least two weeks in advance to set a reservation to visit the cave.

Once you’ve got your key to the cave door, you’re free to explore! It was closed in 1974 to protect the cave from sabotage and damage. It has now been restored to its original beauty and condition.

The Onyx Cave is a series of rooms and passageways that wind in and out of the limestone, creating a honeycomb effect. They haven’t been explored in depth in many years, so do so at your own risk when you visit! (Best Caves in Arizona)

  1. Cave of the Bells

The striking feature of this cave is the underground lake, located about 80 meters below the surface.

Like Onyx Cave, there is an entrance, so you should contact the Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s office and apply a refundable $100 deposit for the keys.

Once you have the keys and the gate, you are free to explore! The Lake Tunnel entrance will lead you to the famous underground lake, and you’ll notice something strange – the lake temperature and air get warmer as you go deeper. Experts believe this means a source of heat beneath the lake’s surface.

It takes four miles of dirt road to get here, and 4WD or a high-clearance vehicle is highly recommended. It is located in south-central Arizona near the cities of Sonoita and Panguitch. (Best Caves in Arizona)

  1. Wind Cave

While not an actual cave or large cave like the other caves on this list, Wind Cave still matters! It was created through wind erosion on the side of a cliff on Pass Mountain in Usery Mountain Regional Park.

The climb up to Wind Cave is one of the most popular hikes in Mesa, Arizona, and is 3 miles round trip with approximately 800 feet of climbing.

Once you reach the cave, enjoy the shadows and the view! You can see from here to downtown Phoenix and other valley areas.

The cave is shallow but has plenty of places to sit, have to breakfast, and enjoy the view. Take your time along the way, as the entire trail will be exposed to the sun in the afternoon. This trail is best in the early morning when the mountain provides plenty of shade. (Best Caves in Arizona)

  • Address: 3939 N User Pass Road, Mesa, AZ 85207
  • Entry Fee: $7 Day Pass


Cave exploration is a popular activity for adrenaline junkies and adventure seekers. While it can be dangerous at times, if you come prepared with a map and the right equipment, you can see parts of the underground world that very few people get to see.

We hope you like our article on Top 10 Best Caves in Arizona.

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