Grand Canyon Caverns
The Grand Canyon caverns are about 230 feet below the ground. These caverns are dry, making them a rare occurrence as only 3% of the world’s caverns are dry. Stalactites and stalagmites are not commonly seen throughout the caverns because they are so dry. Water was present throughout the caverns a long time ago as this is what helped to form them.
The caverns expand 60 miles, and as a result many different animals who wandered into the caverns never found their way out. For instance, a Giant Ground Sloth, a species that went extinct around 20,000 years ago was found inside the caverns. Now a replica stands in his place, about 15 feet tall and weighing a ton. In 1950, a mummified Bobcat was found in the caverns, and research shows he fell in a century before he was discovered. Evidence of other creatures can be found in the limestone walls.
The year-round temperature of the caverns is 56 degrees, and there is 6% humidity. The environment inside the caverns now does not allow for any life to be sustained. Even bacteria cannot survive more than 72 hours.
In 1962, after two years of construction, a fully operational elevator was installed in the canyons to facilitate touring. The original, naturally occurring cave entrance was sealed. The entrance was sealed because it was considered as a burial ground by the Hualapai Indians, and those who wanted to run tours of the caverns also wanted to respect their religious beliefs.
In 1963, enough food for 2,000 people to live on for two weeks was stored inside the caverns in the event of a catastrophe as a result of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The food was never needed, yet is still edible as a result of the conditions in the Grand Canyon caverns.
For those interested in visiting the Grand Canyon caverns, numerous tours are available. These tours are guided and leave every half hour, every day, with the exception of Christmas Day. In order to participate in one of these tours, admission is charged, though no advance notice is required. The tour lasts about 45 minutes and is well worth every penny.
The caverns are still being explored by professionals in areas where conditions are not safe for general tourist traffic. Explorers are trying to find more natural passageways and rooms to add to the tour and find evidence to learn more about the history of the caverns.