When we started the planning for our Route 66 road trip, I knew we would pass by Grand Canyon Caverns in Arizona. We had visited the place in 2005 and I looked at their website to see if there was something new to experience. There is. They now offer the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite.
They already run a motel on the premise and they had now expanded their offerings with a very special room that you can spend the night in: The Grand Canyon Caverns Suite which is located 220 feet below the ground.
Danish meet-up in Grand Canyon Caverns
We arrived at Grand Canyon Caverns for the last tour of the day. We were 8 people on the tour – 4 of us were danish. It is not unusual to run in to other people from Denmark when you travel in the states, but this meeting was a little special. It turned out, that the couple we ran in to had used my website and asked questions about their road trip route.
When we stopped at the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite on the guided tour down in the cave, the guide said that there were two guests from the group that were going to stay in the suite over night. I had not told my brother that I had booked the suite, so he was very surprised to learn that we would spend the night 220 feet below the ground.
Check-in at Grand Canyon Caverns Suite
Once we were done with the tour and up top again and the last guests had left the cave, we were greeted by our host for the night, Nadine.
She took us down in to the cave and explained how the elevator worked and where the main switch for the light was etc. Then she showed us the layout of the room we were going to spend the night in.
There are no walls or ceiling in the room so no matter where you stand, you can see the bare cave walls, the huge arch and the big open room. Even from the toilet and shower you have a stunning view of the cave.
The layout of the suite
The suite has sleeping accommodation for 6 people. Two queen size beds and and a pull-out sofa plus a smaller sofa. There is also a recliner, a rocking chair and a small dinner table seating two.
There is a toilet and shower and a small kitchen with microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator etc. The fridge is filled with soft drinks and water and there were also a selection of wine you help your self with (all included in the price).
Entertainment in the suite
Placed in the center of the suite is the large pull-out sofa, which very fittingly has Route 66 upholstery. There is a TV in the suite but no signal, so there is a selection of DVDs to entertain you. Among others, the horror movie The Cave, and also the complete collection of Hitchcock.
On the coffee table there were snacks and chips and under the table there were a collection of board games.
You can also play music, either CD on a small modern stereo or old fashion vinyl on an old stereo-furniture thingy. There is also an 8-track, but no tapes.
There is a small selection of vinyl, including one with the appropriate title “Grand Canyon Suite”.
Entertainment isn’t limited to the suite. You can freely explore the cave, which I highly recommend you do both with the light on and off – there are flashlights for the guests in the suite.
Dinner in the suite
Once the introduction was over, we took the elevator up again to get our luggage. Before we went back down in the cave, we ordered dinner. We could choose to dine in the restaurant or have the food delivered. We chose to eat in the cave, so we took our luggage and took the elevator down. We were now alone in the cave for the first time.
While we were waiting for dinner, we got comfortable with the suite and put on a movie (it is eire quiet in the cave with no background noise at all). We chose Cars which was the best fit for our road trip on Route 66. Impressive how many details from the route they have managed to get in to the movie.
Exploring the cave
When Nadine brought down our dinner we agreed on a time for the next entertainment option, which is exploration of the cave outside the marked trails.
This is something you can buy on top of the regular tour, but also an option you get when you stay at Grand Canyon Caverns Suite.
Once dinner was over and done, we kicked back a little and watched the rest of Cars. A little later Nadine came back down in to the cave. This time with helmets and rubber gloves. The crystals in the cave are very fragile and sensitive to human touch (the oil from your skin will destroy them), so you need to wear rubber gloves when moving around outside the marked trails.
Nadine used to be a guide herself and together with her daughter in-law, she is the one who knows the cave the best. She isn’t very big, so she can get in to places most others can’t.
She started by offering that we could crawl in to an ancient waterway. The mere sight of the narrow, almost vertical hole in the ground brought out the claustrophobia. We said no thanks and instead went up to Mystery Cave (all the rooms in the cave have different names) and started to climb down the loose rocks and the space between floor and ceiling continuously got smaller.
At, what seemed at the end of the path, she explained how narrow paths and rooms continued further in. They are in the process of expanding some of the paths and connect some rooms, so that you can get a better explorer tour. It is done by volunteer students and cave explorers.
We crawled back out and went to a place where you can climb a latter up in to a small room where the walls are sparkling with crystals. Difficult to take pictures of.
While we were using the latter up in to the small room Nadine went down a small path in the ground, that she had not been in for several years. Her trip in went fine (I got claustrophobic watching her maneuvering in the narrow opening) and before she completely disappeared, we handed her a camera to take some pictures of the rarely viewed crystals.
It was more difficult for her to get out. She could get so far out her head stuck out but the incline and loose rubbles made it impossible for her to get a footing and get out on her own, so we had to drag her out. She took it all with a smile and had clearly enjoyed the experience.
50 year old candy
The last stop on the tour outside the marked paths was a closer look at the emergency rations which have been stored in the cave for 50 years. The boxes contains crackers and candy and because of the special climate in the cave, it is still good. We got to taste some 50 year old candy, that tasted like something you had just bought.
After an hour of exploring the cave with Nadine she took the elevator up top and left us alone in the cave. Should we need her, we could call up top on a phone in the room.
Exploring the cave alone
With the lights on, we walked around in the cave enjoyed the silence and took a lot of pictures. Although I had a camera tripod with me, if was difficult to get a perfect shot of the suite because of the limited options for a good stance.
Good night and sleep tight in the darkness
When we were done exploring the cave on our own we went back to the suite and switched of the light on the main switch. This turned off all the light, except the light in the suite.
Once we were ready to go to bed, we turned off the all the light for the first time. It was dark, but not pitch black in the suite. The clock on the clock radio and the microwave gives off an incredible amount of lift, when everything is pitch black. We decide to leave them on, but we did switch off the TV. We were told, that some have it on during the night. This is because the cave is so quiet that some people can’t fall asleep. They are used to having some background noise.
Live exhibit in the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite
We woke the next morning having had a great night sleep. Check-out time is at 11 and you are encouraged to stay at least till after 9. This way there is a chance a guided tour will come by the suite while you are still in it.
We had plenty of time before the first tour, so we enjoyed one of the more unique experiences in the suite: taking a shower with view of the cave walls.
Once we were done with the morning routine, we went on a tour of the cave yet again. This time with all the light switched off. The impression of the cave is very different when you only have the light from a flash light.
If you are not up and turned on the light by 9:30, it will be turned on by the tour guide, when the first tour groups comes down. When the first group came down we were sitting in the suite writing in the guest book. The guide told the group about the suite and we chipped in with highlights of our stay in the suite.
An incredible experience to stay the night in Grand Canyon Caverns Suite
It was an incredible experience to stay the night in Grand Canyon Caverns Suite and something I would recommend everyone to try.
We were the first travelers from Denmark who stayed in the cave and only the second from a country outside the USA to stay there. The first was Billy Connolly who stayed at the suite when he was filming a travel show on Route 66.
TV-interview 220 feet below the ground
Our adventures in the cave didn’t stop here. While we packing and getting ready to leave, one of the guides came down to ask, if we would be willing to be interviewed for TV in the suite. We instantly said yes.
It was a team of journalist students from Phoenix who conducted the interview.
It was very impulsive so without any preparation we jumped in. It went ok but I accidentally said some wrong things and got carried away and went off track a couple of times.
Segment about Grand Canyon Caverns and suite on american television
Sadly it was now time to check out and get back to the outside world. Funny how you in the elevator up, sincerely asked about the weather because you had been completely cut off for the last 16 hours.
Top side again there were one last thing to do. Nadine is making a quilt and everyone that stays in the suite is asked to sign a square. This is then sewed in to the quilt and will be at display down in the cave and grow over time. Hopefully there will be added more squares from danish people who spend the night in Grand Canyon Caverns Suite.
Goodbye to Grand Canyon Caverns Suite
All there was left now was to say goodbye, which was a hug, and felt very appropriate after an experience like this.
The price for a night in the Grand Canyon Caverns Suite
A night like this doesn’t come cheap, but it is worth every penny. One night costs 700 $ + tax for two people. You can stay 6 in the suite and each additional person is 100 $. If you are 6 people, the average price is 180 $ per person. Food and tips is not included.
This is by no means an unfair price for an experience like this and I would happily do it again, should the opportunity come up.
You can see more about the Grand Canyon Caverns and contact details for booking of the suite at his web site: Grand Canyon Caverns.