Last month, while visiting Colorado, we had the opportunity to spend some time at Wind Cave Mountain Park in Manitou Springs. we are very happy!
We visited many caves around the world, including Karchner Caverns State Park in Arizona and Natural Bridge Caverns in Texas. Why you might be wondering if we want to visit another cave? After all, once you’ve seen one cave, you’ve seen them all, right?
Not really, each cave is unique, each a natural wonder, and all beautiful. Some have rivers running through them, like the subterranean river in Palawan, and some have underground waterfalls like Marvel Cave in Missouri, and all have unique rock formations.
Cave of the Winds in Colorado offers 3 different tours that make it easy for almost anyone to embark on a caving adventure.
The Discovery Tour is an easy 45-minute guided walk through the “more developed” parts of the cave without crawling. The more adventurous Lantern Tour is a 1 1/2 hour tour that takes you deep into caves where certain areas are lit only by lanterns. Then there’s Caving 101, a two-hour tour that includes crawling and climbing unexplored parts of the cave.
We took the Discovery Tour, the only tour we did with our 2 year old Jett. This is probably the most popular tour and runs every 20-30 minutes during summer.
The tour begins at the meeting point at Caver’s Café. Our guide took us to the cave entrance where we stopped to take pictures. You have the option to purchase your photo at the end of the tour. Chris our guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable. He kept us entertained with “cave” jokes while pointing out cave features as he guided us through different parts of the cave.
We pretty much took a crash course in caving. We learned the difference between stalactites and stalagmites. I screw them up all the time! Stalactites are cave structures that hang like icicles from the cave roof. A stalagmite is a structure that rises from the bottom of a cave. When the two structures meet and connect, you end up at a cave pillar. He gave us a cool way to remember the difference: “Beware the stalagmites, you might trip over them”.
The portion of the cave system that the Discovery Tour traverses is very well developed. The trails are flat and have handrails for your safety. The only climbing we had to do was up and down some narrow metal stairs in some areas. We also had to dodge as we walked down low aisles and squeezed through some narrow aisles. All of this is just part of the adventure!
Eventually the lights were turned off and we experienced total darkness inside the cave. Boys are so black! If you are claustrophobic, this may not be for you. If you want to give it a try, don’t worry, you will be called to escort you out of the cave if you feel unwell at any point during your tour.
We had a great trip. 45 minutes passed quickly. Before we knew it, we were back where we started and out of the cave. The tour ends at the gift shop at the counter, where you can view photos taken at the beginning of the tour. Of course we had to buy our photos! In fact, I bought the USB stick with beautiful stock photos on it. I think I bought it for $15.
Discovery Tours are $12 for children ages 6-12, $20 for adults, and children ages 0-5 are free. This is the only tour that allows young children. Children ages 6 and up can join the Lantern Tour and children ages 13 and up can join the Cave 101. Once you’re done caving, you don’t have to leave right away. There’s so much more to do at this mountain park.
If you like extreme activities, you can try Terror-dactyl. Freefall into beautiful Williams Canyon. They start 200 feet above the canyon on the edge of the cliff and are launched at a speed of 100 miles per hour. It’s a bit too extreme for us, but it looks like fun. The ride costs $50 and you must be at least 12 years old, at least 48 inches tall, and weigh between 100 and 250 pounds.
For something less daring, try Bat-A-Pult. Soar high along Williams Canyon on this round-trip zipline tour. This attraction costs $20 for unlimited rides on the Bat-A-Pult and unlimited access to the Wind Walker Challenge. You must be at least 48 inches tall and weigh no more than 300 pounds.
The Wind Walker Challenge is a 3-story obstacle course for adventurers of all ages. The course is set on the edge of a cliff and features steel beams, ropes and ladders. Fee is included in the Bat-A-Pult pass mentioned above. Course requirements are the same as Bat-A-Pult.
For younger kids and those of us who aren’t too brave, Time Freak is a life-sized arcade game where you play and hunt for gems. These activities are more in line with my rhythm. Especially gems!
And of course food and shopping, two of my favorite things to do! Grab a meal or a snack at Caver’s Cafe, then pick up some cool souvenirs at Pickett’s Mercantile gift shop. We create!
A few things to consider before heading out:
The cave temperature is a constant 54°, so dress modestly or bring a light jacket. Wear comfortable shoes, there will be a lot of walking.
If you do the Latern Tour or Caving 101, be prepared that your shoes and clothing might get a little wet. Bring a Caving 101 flashlight or headlamp. We had a great time at Wind Cave Mountain Park. This is a great area activity for the whole family. You can spend half a day like we did, or spend a day trying out their extreme activities!
I would like to thank Diana Jones, Head of Group Sales at Wind Cave Mountain Park, for providing my family with guest tickets for the Discovery Tour. we are very happy!