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Route 66 Faded Kitsch
This place has an air of faded kitsch, complete with large cement dinosaurs, comical signs, and other kinds of yard art. It's fun to experience it all, but bring money! The campground price for tents is $30, although they gave me a discount to $20 because I told them I'm a tour guide and "local" and AAA member (not sure which of those options swayed them to lower the price.) The cost for the basic Caverns tour was about $20, plus I gave a $5 tip to the very entertaining guide, who was a 17-year-old high school girl. Then of course there was a meal at the restaurant, where I spent about $20. So, I dropped about $65. It's a great place to spend the afternoon and evening before you go to Havasu Falls, which is about an hour's drive from there.
The campgrounds, caverns and restaurant are located about a mile or so from Route 66. The Grand Canyon Caverns Motel is right by the highway. To get to the other three attractions you have to drive up a side road from the motel. There are numerous signs to direct you.
The employees I met were all very friendly and helpful.
Campsites: I was tenting, but there are also RV sites with hookups. There are adequate restrooms, old but very clean. I found that some of the campsites were fairly attractive, but not as "private" as advertised. The whole area is covered with a lot of large juniper bushes, so some of the sites are tucked amongst these. I was there in early September during a dry spell between monsoon rains. The nighttime temperature was very pleasant, the stars were bright. Since I was there during the week it was very quiet, except for the freight trains... My only neighbor was a cross country bicycle tourist who was from Germany. The mainline of the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway goes fairly nearby...and there is a crossing nearby. It is probably a half mile away from the campground. I was not awakened by the many, many trains that went by, blowing their horns at the crossing, but a light sleeper would definitely want to wear earplugs!
If you book a campsite you are eligible to drive down to the motel in the morning for the free breakfast. However, since I wanted to start my hike to Havasu Falls very early, I had to leave my site at about 4 a.m., too early for breakfast.
Caverns Tour: You simply haven't lived until you've seen the Grand Canyon Caverns. This is kitschy tourism at its finest. It was a very entertaining tour, what can I say? The cave is lighted up and has cement walkways and stairways inside. To reach it you go with the guide down an elevator over 200 feet below the surface. One of the cave attractions is a platform complete with beds and a TV, a "hotel room" you can rent for $800 a night. There is a very large model of a giant ground sloth to depict the poor female sloth who fell into the cave and then tried to get out, scratching the walls. The scratches are still there. At least, that's what the guide said those scratches were from. I took the standard tour. For more extensive tours advance reservations are required.
Restaurant: The restaurant is located in the same building as the caverns entrance and gift shop. It was a three-minute walk from my campsite. I've eaten there quite a few times over the years. This trip I ordered the special of the day. The tortilla soup was the best I'd ever tasted. The chicken enchiladas, rice and beans were tasty enough and very filling. There are also standard things on the menu, such as hamburgers. They had a number of choices of beers, but not being a fan of fancy beers I ordered my usual Corona. I didn't notice what others they had, since I had eyes on the Corona.
I really enjoyed my stay at this place, and I went on to have a wonderful three-day backpacking trip to Havasupai. So, over a 4-day "weekend" my experience load was pretty high. I would say, be cautious about when you plan to camp there. Call ahead to make sure they are not having a huge motorcycle club event. That would be a bit much.
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