DOUGAL BROWNLIE, THE GAZETTE
Guide Kyle Martin, center, gives his group information on Aug. 1 about their lantern tour at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in Manitou Springs. The 90-minute, guided Grand Caverns Tour includes nearly a mile of walking and navigating dark narrow tunnels, low passageways, uneven stairs and rooms with muddy, original floors.
Cave an underground adventure BY STEPHANIE EARLS
Millions of years before the Jicarilla Apache chose this cave near Manitou Springs as home for their Great Wind Spirit, a canyon within a canyon began taking shape in the limestone bed of a dead, inland sea. Thought to have formed between four and seven million years ago, Cave of the Winds entered the modern historical account almost 150 years ago when a homesteader in Williams Canyon named Arthur B. Love discovered a narrow cleft in the canyon wall. That discovery had been all but forgotten by 1880, when two schoolboys on a hike went exploring for caves by candlelight. As the story goes, a flicker of flames lured brothers George and John Pickett through the opening Love had found and into a massive chamber that was “unlike anything ever seen before,” according to 22
Sunday, September 16, 2018
a history recounted on the cave website. The Picketts’ pastor and leader of the Boys’ Exploring Association, Rev. Roselle T. Cross, joined the boys in exploring about 200 feet of horizontal passageways. Over the decades that followed, those routes were expanded, improved and extended to include well over 10,000 feet of surveyed passages and chambers boasting “showcase” mineral formations, most of which are fully-electrified and open to the public. One of the state’s older tourist attractions, the underground adventure now comes with open-air options to spike the adrenaline. In addition to cave tours, the site now has above-ground activities including aerial rides, climbing and challenge courses, and — for the truly steelnerved — the Terror-dactyl, which sends riders plummeting 150 feet into the canyon, at speeds approaching 100 miles per hour. Info: caveofthewinds.com
• Manitou Cliff Dwellings — Ancient Anasazi ruins were relocated to Colorado Springs from the Four Corners area and opened to the public in 1907. Climb inside 20 ruins while listening to an audio tour, then visit one of four museums. cliffdwellingsmuseum.com • The 14,000-square-foot Miramont Castle Museum, 9 Capitol Hill Ave., was built as the residence of Fr. Jean Baptiste Francolon in 1895. Visitors can enjoy high tea at the museum, which is on the National Register of Historic Places; miramontcastle.org