Genre Travel Across the US, Part One
Caves and Caverns, Section Three: New Mexico, Arizona and More
Continued from Wednesday
(NOTE: There are so many caves and caverns across the U.S., I broke this section of “Genre Travel Across the US, Part One” into four posts, each one focusing on a single state – except for this last one.)
Ice Cave and Bandera Volcano — The Lad of Fire and Ice
Located off New Mexico’s scenic Route 53 you’ll find The Land of Fire and Ice. The Ice Cave is naturally cooled, never rising above 31 degrees F. Ice formations glisten blue-green inside, but outside the volcanic land has been called "the most moon-like expanse of country on Earth." The Bandera Volcano is an excellent example of an erupted volcano, offering views of volcanic craters and lava tubes. Also at this attraction, you’ll find opportunities to mine for gemstones and a trading post that deals in jewelry, pottery, rugs and other products from the local Indian Pueblos.
Grand Canyon Caverns
The largest dry caverns in the U.S., Grand Canyon Caverns is located of Route 66 in Arizona, between Kingman and Seligman. The attraction has an Inn, RV Park, restaurant and gift shop. An elevator takes you 21 stories below ground to the base of the caverns, which are so large that three football (American) fields could fit inside. AAA and AARP members receive a discount.
Located southeast of Tucson, Ariz., off U.S. Highway 10, Colossal Cave is a dry cave where the formations are not growing at present. Staying at an even 70 degrees F, the Cave was most likely formed by an upwelling of deep, hot sulfur-rich salty water. Guides take guests on 50-minute tours and tell of the Cave’s history, legends and geology. The attraction also sports a gift shop, open-air café, and a wide variety of family-friendly activities. A RealPlayer virtual tour is available at www.colossalcave.com/cavetour.html.
Hungry for more U.S. caves? Check out the National Caves Association at www.cavern.comfor the National Cave and Cavern Directory.
While in Texas, I picked up a little brochure called "Bats ‘N’ Bridges," provided by the Texas Department of Transportation. According to this flyer, there are 33 species of bats that call Texas home. If you’d like to see bats fly at dusk, the best time is between March and the end of October, when Mexican free-tail bats reside in Texas bridges and culverts. The best places to see them include:
- The bridge over Town Lake, Congress Ave., Austin;
- The U.S. 77 bridge over Los Olmos Creek, Riviera;
- The Interstate 35 bridge over McNeil Road, Round Rock; and
- The Foster Street bride over Loop 306, San Angelo.
For more information about bats, visit the Texas Department of Transportation’s website at www.dot.state.tx.us or the Bat Conservation International website at www.batcon.org.