Known for its “Manitou Cliff Dwellings”, “Ghost Town Museum” and the “Cave of the Winds”, the picturesque Colorado town of Manitou Springs is a great place to spend a few days reconnecting with some elements of our county’s early history.
Of the area’s numerous attractions, the “Cave of the Winds” is one of the oldest in the Pikes Peak Region. It is also a perfect stop for both the mildly curious and serious cave explorers alike.
Cave of the Winds
The “Cave of the Winds” is an ancient limestone cave that was believed to have been created in the Ordovician period.
It had been used by Jicarilla Apaches since 1000 A.D and was referred to by the Native Americans as the cave that contained “The Great Spirit of the Wind.” The Apache natives are believed to have used the “Cave of the Winds”intermittently before eventually leaving the area.
The cave was later discovered by the Pickett brothers in the late 1800’s and was subsequently opened up to the public.
The “Cave of the Winds” is an estimated 10,765 feet long with a total depth of 289 feet. It contains many beautiful stalactites, stalagmites, travertine and flowstone formations.
Hours of Operation
The “Cave of the Winds” is open daily year round except for Christmas Day. Tour offerings vary by day and season.
Cave of the Winds Tour Offerings
The staff at the “Cave of the Winds” offers three different types of guided tours. The three tour options are the “Discovery Tour”, “Lantern Tour”, and the “Eco-Adventure Flashlight Tour.”
Would-be cave explorers should be cognizant that each of “Cave of the Winds” trio of tours goes to disparate sections of the cavern. It should also be noted that some sections of the cave have yet to be explored. Of course those unexplored areas of the cave remain closed to the public at this time.
The “Discovery Tour” is the easiest of the three guided tours and lasts 45 minutes. As of October 2010 the tour is offered Monday through Saturday with new tour leaving every 30 minutes. The last ‘Discovery Tour” of the day leaves at 4:30 pm.
Though the “Discovery Tour” is the easiest of the three tours, due to the nature of the cave it is not handicapped accessible. The price of admission to the “Discovery Tour” is $18.00 per adult, $9.00 per child between the ages of 6 through 11 and free for those ages 5 and under.
The “Discovery Tour” tends to take visitors through the cave’s “Temple of Science”, “Bridal Chamber” and “Canopy Hall.”
As the name suggests, the 1 ½ hour, moderately difficult “Cave of the Winds” “Lantern Tour” is done by lantern light and as such children ages 5 and under are not allowed on the tour.
During the winter the “Lantern Tours” usually run on the weekends with tours departing at 11:00 am, 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm. Admission to the “Cave of the Winds” “Lantern Tour” is $22.00 per adult and $12.00 per child between the ages of 6 through 12.
“Lantern Tours” tend to take visitors through the cave’s “Manitou Grands Entrance” and the “grand Concert Hall.”
The “Eco-Venture Flashlight Tour” is the most difficult of the three tour offerings and as of October 2010 is offered on Sundays only from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm. The last “Eco-Venture Flashlight Tour” tends to leave at 4:30 pm.
Things to Know Before You Go
“Cave of the Winds” retains in much of its’ natural state so proper dress is strongly recommended. This means that one should wear sturdy, rubber soled footwear and dress accordingly to the weather.
The “Cave of the Winds” maintains a year round temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit so those individuals who are sensitive to the cold should bring a light jacket along.
Furthermore, the cave’s geology is not conducive to the use of strollers or backpacks and as such those items are forbidden.
In addition, there are over 200 stairs within the cave as well as narrow passages that may not be appropriate for those with medical conditions such as heart problems and claustrophobia.
Therefore, visitors should use their discretion when deciding on a tour and consult with the cave’s management with any questions about tour difficulty in advance.
Visitors should be aware that the “Cave of the Winds” does contain wildlife such as bats. At this time the cave has not been affected by the “White Nose Syndrome” that has been affecting other caverns throughout the United States.
Other examples of cave life include extemophiles, trogloxenes, troglophiles, and troglobites.
Hours of operation, tour prices and tour availability are subject to change at any given time without prior notification so those interested in visiting should call in advance of one’s trip to confirm all details.
Cave of the Winds
100 Cave of the Winds Road
Manitou Springs, CO 80829
Those travelers to the Manitou Springs region of Colorado that would like additional information on things to do and see should log onto the town’s tourism website.