Plants, Stone, California Landscapes


Colossal Cave Watercolors

During my Tucson vacation I visited Colossal Cave Mountain Park. An interesting spot, it’s an old desert ranch with a cave that’s been a tourist attraction for over a hundred years. The cave’s a ‘dead’ or ‘dry’ cave, meaning it’s not humid inside so the formations are no longer growing. Many of them have been broken off and taken away as souvenirs and at some point someone used dynamite to make a vertical shaft to access a lower section of the cave. But it’s a cave, so it’s still pretty compelling, despite the rough treatment. In the 30’s the CCC built a visitor center at the entrance to the cave, a beautiful stone building surrounded by hills covered with mesquite scrub.

The next day I went to Kartchner Caverns, a cave which humans have treated much more benevolently. It was discovered in 1974 and only publicized after funding had been secured to protect it, and a lot of effort was taken to make sure that visitors wouldn’t harm the integrity of the cave, most notably a set of double airlocks at the entrance to maintain the humidity levels which allow the formations to keep growing. It’s stunning inside and highly recommended, but Colossal Cave has its own particular charms and I’m glad I saw the two them together. It gave a strong sense of ‘then and now’, of how cave tourism has evolved in the last hundred or so years.

One Response to “Colossal Cave Watercolors”

  1. January 14th, 2018 at 12:22 am

    Limerent says:

    I love your watercolors of Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Not everyone agrees the caves are pretty, but this park is special for me. Only visited once in 2012; would like to visit again someday. 🙂

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