National Old Trails Highway GCC

National Old Trails Highway on Grand Canyon Caverns Resort property

July 15, 1915, Williams, Arizona, “Got going about eleven, had lunch at Ash Forks. Loafed along; found it very hot. Bought some gas and oranges at Seligman. Stutz broke another spring about 15 miles out and return to Seligman. Cadillac and Ford went on to Kingman, arriving at midnight, Brunswick Hotel. Very rough and dusty roads.”

In Kingman, the Brunswick Hotel still stands, and the rough and dusty road that Edsel Ford traveled that hot July day passes within yards of what was once the state of Arizona’s second most popular attraction, Grand Canyon Caverns. Ford and his companions, however, were oblivious to the treasures found within the caverns as they were not discovered until 1927, one year after certification of the most famous highway in the world, U.S. 66.

In its infancy the caverns, like the highway itself, provided the tourist with opportunity for raw adventure. Walter Peck, discoverer of the caverns, provided access to the scenic wonders down below with a bucket, a winch, and a rope, a device derisively dubbed dope on a rope.

Grand Canyon Caverns - Sonderman

Grand Canyon Caverns – Sonderman

When the highway boomed in the 1950’s and 1960’s, the cavern owners transformed the property into a resort complete with motel, service station and garage, lounge, restaurants, and gift shop. The complex proved to be so popular, the highway at the entrance was expanded to facilitate traffic flow. Aside from city segments of U.S. 66, this was the only four-lane segment between Albuquerque and Los Angeles.

With completion of I-40, Route 66 and the caverns began a slow fade. The garage and service station closed, and the daily count of visitors could be counted in the dozens rather than the hundreds.

Grand Canyon Caverns & Inn

Grand Canyon Caverns & Inn

Today, however, the Grand Canyon Caverns Resort, much like the mythical Phoenix, or Route 66 itself, is rising from the ashes. The motel, now fully refurbished, appears as a living time capsule, circa 1964. The restaurant is a gathering place for hungry cave explorers, hikers, and Route 66 enthusiasts. The sound of laughter can be heard from the miniature golf course in the shadow of dinosaurs. The award winning RV park serves as an oasis for those who choose to travel with all of the comforts of home, or to pitch a tent under a starlit desert sky.

Adventuresome travelers can enjoy trail rides or wagon rides. And as of March 12, they can even try a bit of spelunking with exploration off of the paved trails and into recently discovered caverns.

Once again, the Grand Canyon Caverns is a destination. Once again, the historic caverns resort is providing visitors with a lifetime of memories.