Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Roadtrip ~ Fairy Caverns & Fairy Kisses

One of the places we visited while in Glenwood Springs was Glenwood Caverns. This was a MUST SEE because of the Fairy Caves located thereI mean what lover of the FAE wouldn't want to go see Fairy Caves! **wink**

***Remember, you can click on a picture to make it bigger***

Charles Darrow homesteaded the area surrounding the Fairy Caves and turned it into a tourist attraction by the mid-1890's. Darrow built a road to the top of Iron Mountain where the entrance to the Fairy Cave can be found and brought electric lights to the Fairy Caves before the 1900's. 

The Tonsils
In his ever expansion of the 'attraction', Darrrow blasted a tunnel from a cavern to the cliff side overlooking the confluence of the Colorado River and Roaring Fork River Valley. 

Railing around the ledge at the end of the tunnel. This area is named Exclamation Point.
Crevasses left by the roots of a tree

Quite breathtaking views but being near the edge was not for the faint of heart!

But these new holes in the walls of the caves brought in outside air and slowly the Fairy Caves began to die. The outside air can be both hotter and drier than the caves moderate climate causing the caves to 'dry up'.

The Fairy Caves were operated by the Darrow Family until 1917, at which time the attraction was closed. Unfortunately the entrance to the Fairy Caves wasn't secured with a door or bars and many of the larger and more unique formations were broken or stolen. Trash and rubble filled many places. But the beauty of the Fairy Caves was apparent to many and Cavers continued to explore the many cracks and crevices discovering many new caves and passageways.

What do you see?

In 1998, Steve and Jeanne Beckley took over development of the property. Being life-long Cavers, the Beckleys used scientific cave preservation methods in all their improvements. The most important was installing airtight doors in all the cave entrances. These doors form an airlock which helps maintain the ideal temperature and humidity level.  Today the newer caverns are still living and growing. And there are rumors that the once dead sections of the Fairy Caves have begun to grow again.

Today's visitors have a set of strict rules which they must follow when touring these caves. The most important is 

Tree Root which has grown down through the rock in search of water
No one is sure how the Fairy Caves got their name but legend has it that one of Darrow's daughters thought the light from her lantern reflecting off the water droplets looked like Fairies dancing around the cave. 

Mineral laden water droplets leached through rock are what form the many unique forms which can be found in the Fairy Caves. Water dripping from the roof of the cave deposits those minerals on its way to the floor, forming Stalactites. 

The minerals that are left in that droplet once it hits the floor collect and form Stalagmites. The multitude of other rock formations are only variations of these processes.

Some visitors to the Fairy Caves and its labyrinth system are lucky enough to have one of these tiny water droplets fall on them. This is called a Cave Kiss or Fairy Kiss. A Kiss like this is considered a sign of Good Luck. 

And yes, I received a Kiss. Or two.

The caverns in the Fairy Caves system are quite spacious. And the passageways aren't too narrow. I never once had a problem with being underground. 

In fact, it was rather hard to imagine that I was deep down in the recesses of the Earth. But the total darkness which our tour guide had us experience was a bit disconcerting!

Next we'll explore King's Row Cave and the journey that was taken to discover this one!


the dogs' mother said...

I see a dinosaur!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Oh, it looks wonderful! I'm glad the current owners are using the latest technology to preserve and even revive the cave formations. And of course the fairies would give you a kiss or two -- they recognize you!

mrsduncanmahogany said...

Oh boy! That looks like so much fun! And imagine being there all alone, maybe the Fae would come out to play!

Rue said...

What a magical place! I'm a little claustrophobic, but that looks like a roomy tour - I think I'd do alright in there.

Hope your fairy kisses bring you luck!