We stayed in Kingman and decided to make the effort to drive along Rt 66 to tour the caverns. The drive takes a little over an hour along Rt. 66, which is easy, traffic free and scenic. You can get back and forth to Kingman on the Interstate if you don't want to bother with the old road. There is nothing else anywhere around the complex at the caverns. There are some old dinosaur statues out by the entrance, then you pass a general store and motel before turning left onto a "paved" road that has seen better days. From the entrance it is about a mile along the road to the caverns.
At the cavern itself there is a gift shop and fast food restaurant, both of which are kitschy Americana from the 1960's which is exactly what we expected. They have collected all sorts of tacky stuff out front to entertain you while you wait for your tour. Everything is dusty and rundown, but the staff we spoke to were all pleasant enough. However, we started out being nice to them and they returned the favor. We saw them snap at some visitors who were more demanding than we are, so don't push your luck.
We visited in the off season and there were very few people there. I kind of think it is always fairly slow since it is off the beaten path. There were only two other people on our tour, which was nice. You take an elevator down into the cave and the walk through the cavern is fairly easy. They offer an hour tour, which is the standard option, or you can opt for the 30-minute version if you can't walk as much. Apparently they sell whichever tour is asked for first because when we arrived the woman in the gift shop selling tickets said not to wait to book if we want the longer tour in case someone else shows up and wants the short one. Unless you are in some sort of rush, I don't know why anyone would bother with the short tour. The hour long one was perfectly enjoyable and the time went by quickly. Our guide was entertaining and had lots of interesting things to say that weren't part of the script.
This is a dry cave so it isn't as spectacular as some of the major caves elsewhere, but we definitely enjoyed it. Other than the usual cave features, they have built an open-top suite you can stay in overnight. The guide offered us a substantial discount if we would book right then because hardly anyone ever books it. It is quite rustic, but might we worth a shot for one night just for the novelty of it. There is also a concert venue that was recently completed and hadn't been used yet. All it is is a wooden platform with some seating, nothing elaborate. They have also preserved some cold war supplies that the government sent so they could use the cave as a shelter if necessary. The cave owner later added more supplies "just in case." You also pass by a petrified bobcat and a stuffed giant sloth.
All in all, I'm glad we took the time to take the tour, but I wouldn't make a special trip to this area just to see it. However, if you are going to or from the Grand Canyon, it is an easy detour and worth doing.
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