We are a bit nuts for caves. Everywhere we travel, we are constantly on the hunt for underground exploration. And we aren’t picky about the type of caves either. We’ve explored majestic show caves in New York State, underground rivers in the Philippines, and ice caves in British Columbia. So when we were driving the Pikes Peak Highway and saw that Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs was just a few minutes away, we couldn’t resist.
Caves are fascinating. Even in well-explored places like Cave of the Winds, a mysterious lure lies around every corner. Each crevasse invites exploration, and it’s hard to resist dipping into areas where the light refuses to reach.
When we arrived at Cave of the Winds, Colorado, it was immediately clear that this was far more than just a dramatic show cave. Cave of the Winds is a full-on entertainment attraction with experiences for all ages and all adventure-levels.
With rides that will have you soaring above towering canyons, climbing parks for young kids, and one of the most gorgeous caves in Colorado, Cave of the Winds is truly a destination that the whole family can enjoy. This is more like an adventure-theme park than just a Colorado cave experience.
Cave of the Winds is also not the only “Cave of the Winds” out there. It’s a popular name for connected cave systems due to the unique way air moves in and out of these underground passages. The most popular Cave of the Winds is probably the one in Niagara Falls, New York, leading down to the base of the spectacular Bridal Veil Falls. But Cave of the Winds, Colorado, is a close second.
About Cave of the Winds in Colorado
Cave of the Winds originally began as a cave attraction near Colorado Springs back in 1881. The cave was well-known among the local Indigenous peoples before the arrival of Europeans. The Apache believed that Cave of the Winds was the home of the Great Spirit of the Wind.
Local brothers John and George Pickett stumbled across the cave during a hike in Williams Canyon in 1880. The news quickly spread. Later that year, George Washington Snider dug through to find the Canopy Hall section.
Within a year, it had become a popular local attraction. Cave of the Winds now stands as the oldest natural attraction in Colorado. Unfortunately, the cave’s popularity led to excited visitors stripping the cave of many of the incredible natural formations. But the sheer size of the halls inside and the intricate system of connecting tunnels has led Cave of the Winds to become one of the most popular things to do in Colorado.
How To Plan Your Visit To Cave Of The Winds in Manitou Springs
When you’re planning your visit to Cave of the Winds, know that this is far more than just a simple show cave system. You could easily spend a full day exploring all the things to do at Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs. Heck, you may not even be able to get all the attractions done in one day.
Because there are things to do at Cave of the Winds Colorado for every age, you can truly choose-your-own-adventure on your visit. This should help you pick and choose the right experience for you and your family.
If you’re planning on spending the day at Cave of the Winds, do yourself a favor and pick up one of their activity packages, such as the Pioneer Package. This will save you a LOT of money versus buying each experience individually.
Cave of the Winds Cave Tours
The crown jewel of the Colorado Springs Cave of the Winds attractions is the scenic cave tours. This will likely be your main reason for visiting this fun attraction, so we’ll start there.
There is actually two separate Cave of the Winds cave tours to experience; The Discovery Tour and the Lantern Tour. Here are some details on each to help you choose. Or, maybe you’ll want to do both.
Cave of the Winds Discovery Tour
The Discovery Tour is the most popular cave tour at Cave of the Winds, Colorado. This tour is a 45-60 minute guided walking tour that explores 15 rooms and a major part of the park’s walkways and stair system.
The discovery tour is a popular experience for all ages. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history and geology of the cave system. You’ll also get to experience the most famous formations in Cave of the Winds.
For those visiting Cave of the winds with babies, make sure you bring a front carrier such as a Baby Bjorn. Strollers and baby backpack carriers cannot fit safely in the cave system. Alternatively, your child can be carried or walk if they are able.
The Cave of the Winds Discovery tour is free for children 5 and under. Tours leave every 20-30 minutes during peak season and every 30-45 minutes during the winter. Expect a wait of about 45-minutes from ticket purchase to the start of your tour. However, you can use that time to explore and take in the canyon views.
Cave of the Winds Lantern Tour
For families with children over the age of 8, the Cave of the Winds Lantern tour is something worth remembering. This fun and exciting tour gives you the chance to explore the Cave of the Winds by candlelight. This tour includes the nearly pristine Manitou Grand Caverns.
The Cave of the Winds lantern tour takes approximately 90-minutes and covers nearly a mile (1.6 km) of underground exploration. Along the way, you’ll learn about the history of the cave, hear spooky ghost stories, and learn about some of the mysteries of the Manitou Grands.
If you’re looking to learn even more about caving, the two-and-a-half-hour Caving 101 experience is a great way to start. This guided tour involves crawling, climbing, and splashing through some of Cave of the Winds’ rawest areas.
Along the way, you’ll learn basic spelunking skills, regional history, and the geology of the Cave of the Winds system.
Caving 101 is for those 13 and older. It is recommended that guests be in decent physical condition and have no back or knee issues.
Wind Walker Challenge Course
The three-story Wind Walk Challenge obstacle course is one of the most exciting attractions for those visiting Cave of the Winds with younger children.
This super fun and involved obstacle course is open to children between 42″ and 82″ in height. Children 42″ to 48″ must be accompanied by an adult. This maze of steel beams, ropes, and ladders is a riot. And it will definitely help kids burn off some energy.
Kids will love being strapped into the full-body harness and being connected to an overhead safety system so they can jump, climb, and hang from all the fantastic obstacles along the way.
One of the wildest rides at Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs is the adrenaline-fuelled Bat-A-Pult. This wild ride sends visitors on a 1,200 ft round-trip along the cliff-side of Williams Canyon.
The Bat-A-Pult leaves right from the edge of the Cave of the Winds Visitors Center and hits speeds of nearly 40 mph as it sends two people at a time down to a lower level.
Kids 42″ and up can enjoy the ride. Those 42″ to 48″ must be accompanied by an adult.
Stalactykes Adventure Slide
This is a truly fun-for-all-ages activity at Cave of the Winds Colorado. Stalactykes Adventure Slide is a multi-story mesh climbing tower with a massive slide at the top.
Watching D, who was 4 at the time, rocket up and down this massive tower was an absolute blast.
The Terror-dactyle Mountain Ride is a truly unique thing to do at Cave of the Winds, Colorado. I haven’t been able to find a ride like this anywhere else.
This ride launches visitors off the 200 ft cliff’s edge and sends them screaming 150 ft over the Williams Canyon at nearly 100 miles per hour!
If you want to step up your adventures at Cave of the Winds, the Via Ferrata is for you. While connected to a track cable, you’ll experience the thrill of hanging on the edge of the magical Williams Canyon cliffs in Manitou Springs.
This is a two-hour guided tour. It includes the Frontier Zip Line experience as well.
Frontier Zip Line
The Cave of the Winds zip lines rocket over a 1/4 mile and 80′ above the floor of Williams Canyon. This is one of their newest activities, and if you’ve never done it before, there is nothing that will make you feel more like Superman.
The Frontier Zip Line is included with the Via Ferrata tour. But it can also be purchased separately.
Other Fun Things To Do At Cave of the Winds Colorado
Cliffhanger Climbing Wall
If you’ve always wanted to experience rock climbing but don’t have the gear, the Cliffhanger Climbing Wall shouldn’t be missed. This experience is open for those 42″ or taller.
Panning for Gemstones
Panning for Gemstones is the perfect way for toddlers and young kids to fill their time at Cave of the Winds. This all-ages activity lets kids pan for gold and gems in the authentic-style panning sit.
Axe throwing is one of the hottest activities going these days. So, of course, Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs jumped on the bandwagon. Enjoy some friendly competition by throwing sharp things at the wood!
For kids who want to get a closer look at what spelunking is really like, the Caver’s Crawl Box Challenge is where to start. This hands-on simulated caving experience helps keep the kids busy between your cave tour and other activities.
Magic Lantern Theatre
Cave of the Winds has changed a lot over the years. Now you can experience the soaring aerial views and speed of flying through the canyon on a Virtual Reality experience.
This 4D adventure is open for those 42″ and up. Those between 42″ and 48″ must be accompanied by an adult.
Tips For Visiting Colorado’s Cave of the Wind With Kids
Cave of the Winds is one of the most industrialized caving experiences that we have taken part in. Even compared to Howe’s Caves in New York State, Cave of the Winds is handled more like a theme park than a natural attraction.
Because of that, some of the experiences feel a little colder and more impersonal than other underground experiences that we’ve enjoyed. Personally, I love to take my time exploring caves. To drink in the atmosphere of an alien landscape.
But there is just no time for that here. Visitors and herded through the rooms, even passing and mingling with other groups along the way.
Aside from that, the experience is a blast. My kids had fun, and it was a nice change from the snow and wind that we experienced at the top of Pikes Peak and the pristine nature of Rocky Mountain National Park.
- Accessibility – The majority of the Caves are not accessible for wheelchairs or strollers. However, the entrance cave is complimentary for those with mobility issues.
- Food – There is a cafe on site. The Canyon Rim Grill sells water and other drinks, popcorn and other snacks, ice cream, and a few quick meal options.
- Souvenirs – The Mercantile Gift Shop is an awesome place to get gemstones and unique geodes and rocks. You can also pick up the usual apparel, jewelry, trinkets, toys, and gifts.
- Saving Money – You can save a lot of money by purchasing a package deal, such as the Pioneer Package or the Mountain Experience Package. These give you access to multiple experiences versus purchasing each one individually.
Have you ever been to Cave of the Winds in Colorado Springs? What was your experience like? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Or swing over to our Facebook page and say hello!
If you’re passionate about family travel, head on over to our Family Travel Support Group on Facebook. It’s a fantastic community of parents who love travel. We share experiences, knowledge, and the lessons learned along the way. You can also sign up for our newsletter to keep in the loop about new family travel adventures
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