CAVERNS ARE CLOSED (Hat’s off to California’s out of control government for reckless spending of taxpayer funds)
These caverns are located in California in the Mojave National Preserve about 85 miles west of Laughlin. Take Exit 100 (about 20 miles into the preserve) into the desert. You will start climbing, eventually reaching a plateau where there is a small camping area and a ranger station. The Mitchell’s Caverns, within the Mitchell Caverns Natural Preserve, are a trio of limestone caves, located on the east side of the Providence Mountains at an elevation of 4,300 feet, within the Providence Mountains State Recreation Area. They are located in the Mojave Desert, at the north-western end of Essex Road, off of Interstate 40 (Needles Freeway) in San Bernardino County, California.
Mitchell Caverns tours were started by a couple in the 1930’s and were taken over by the California Department of Parks and Recreation to help preserve the natural resources. The public is not allowed into the caverns without a guide. Our guide did a good job of pointing out the unique features in the caverns and giving everyone the opportunity to take pictures. The formations are very delicate and dynamic and if they are touched, the oil from human skin will destroy them and they will no longer grow.
The caverns are about half a mile from the station along a narrow path on the edge of the hill/mountain. Regardless of the outside temperature on your walk to the caves, once you step inside, the temperature will fall or rise (depending upon season of the year you visit to a mild 63° F which is what the caverns remain at all year round.
Once you enter the caverns, it’s a different world. The first thing that hits you is the meaning of darkness. At one point, the guide turned off all sources of light and you knew the true meaning of dark. You could move your hand in front of your face and not know it was there.
The caverns were created during the Pleistocene epoch, when ground water with a high carbonic acid content ate into the surrounding marble and sedimentary limestone. Stalactites, stalagmites, and other cave formations were formed from calcium carbonate left by dripping mineral water. For many years the caves were thought to be “dead”, that is, the formations were no longer growing. However, recent studies have found some signs of life.
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