Caves are not one of the renowned features of the American West, partly since the limestone most conducive to their formation is not widespread, but others are found in a variety of rock types including sandstone, granite and lava.
By far the most famous location, protected as a national park, is Carlsbad Caverns
in south New Mexico
, which have formed in one of the few major limestone mountain ridges in this region and are accompanied by over 100 other caves further in the backcountry, the majority not open to the public and including the beautiful, delicate Lechuguilla Cave, the deepest in the US. But the main passages of the national park caverns see thousands of visitors on peak days and they retain their beauty and majesty despite the inevitable compromises required to enable this number of people to walk through. New Mexico also has a selection of lava tube caves, especially within El Malpais National Monument
There are three well known caves in Arizona
. Northernmost are the Grand Canyon Caverns, along old Route 66 - so named because early smoke tests to determine their extent resulted in one vent being detected near Supai, 60 miles northeast in the Grand Canyon. These dry limestone caverns were discovered in 1927 and are now privately managed as a tourist attraction, with entry (in 2015) priced at $20 plus tax per adult, as well as being the subject of ongoing geological research. 360 miles away (by road) south, Kartchner Caverns State Park contains a more recently discovered (1974) limestone cave system with extremely beautiful, varied speleothems, and a higher entry charge, of $23 per person. Nearby Colossal Cave, 20 miles east of Tucson, is another privately-operated show cave (entry $13 per adult) through dry limestone rocks, and is part of a mountain park that also features trails through the surrounding Sonoran Desert hills.
, a few limestone show caves include Mitchell Caverns in the Providence Mountains within Mojave National Preserve
(these have been closed since 2011, however), Boyden Cave beside the Kings River, just west of Kings Canyon National Park
, and Crystal Cave in nearby Sequoia National Park
, this latter just the most accessible of over 200 such caverns in the area. Further north in California are many lava caves created by volcanic activity associated with the Cascade Range; these include Subway Cave
in the Hat Creek area, and the many tubes of Lava Beds National Monument
in the far north. Another NPS unit with a short cavern-like feature is Pinnacles National Park
, where a seasonal stream flowing through huge volcanic boulders has formed Bear Gulch Cave, which has several short sections of complete darkness, and may be toured by a 1/3 mile trail.
the only well-known subterranean location is Lehman Caves
, within Great Basin National Park. A good variety of small limestone formations may be viewed along a 60 or 90 minute ranger-led tour.
has a good selection of caves in the northern Wasatch Mountains, but again just one major location, also part of a national monument. Timpanogos Cave
is located quite high up the south side of American Fork Canyon, reached by quite a steep 1.5 mile trail, and viewable on a ranger-guided tour.
caverns include Lava River Cave
(the longest lava tube in the state), within Newberry Volcanic National Monument, and Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve
, which features several miles of spectacular passages through metamorphosed limestone, some of which may be viewed along 90 minute guided tours, offered several times a day from spring to fall.
has a small number of developed caves including Wonder Cave in San Marcos, Longhorn Cavern also in the Texas Hill Country, near Burnett, and (the best) Caverns of Sonora further west at the edge of the Chihuahuan Desert, near the small town of Sonora along Interstate 10.
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