Having the morning free, I asked my Las Vegas friend Shin to suggest a short trip with a short drive. He came up with Cowboy Cave in Blue Diamond Hill. So we saddled up and headed to the trailhead at Cowboy Trail Rides. We started walking up a dirt road. When the road ended at the mouth of a huge canyon, we took a well-worn path. After hiking less than a mile in all, we arrived at the entrance of a limestone cave and dropped down a small opening. (The route is described on Jim Boone's Page).
We found ourselves in the main chamber: 20 feet high, 30 feet wide, and 60 feet long at its largest points. It's possible to explore further using small tunnels, so we did. Having visited the cave before, Shin was familiar with its layout and led me deep inside.
Sadly, vandals have heaped abuse on the cave. Thousands of small stalactites must have hung from the ceiling at one time, but nearly all appeared have been broken off. Walls and columns were spray painted. Parts of the ceiling were blackened from fires. Broken glass littered the floor. However, after searching in deeper recesses of the cave we were able to find a few formations that appeared untouched.
It was my first time in a cave this size. I was shocked by the ravages of course, but I enjoyed crawling and scrambling deep in the rock with only a headlamp to cut through the blackness. We spent an hour exploring before emerging from the cave. The bright sunlight stung our eyes and we quickly put on our sunglasses. Then we continued up the canyon. There's another, smaller cave and we went to explore that too.
Our cave adventure begins on a road
The road ends and we take a trail into the canyon
Cowboy Cave is in the left canyon
Unseen from below, the cave entrance is high up the left wall
Heading up to the entrance
The cave entrance is carefully marked
Past the entrance the cave opens up
Heading deeper into the cave
We had to bend down to cross this chamber
Climbing down here was tricky because the rock was rather smooth
Another chamber in the cave
Cave bacon (really, that's what it's called!)
One of several columns
The ceiling was covered with small stalactites. Unlike these ones, most
appeared to have been completely broken off.
These stalactites looked intact
View outside the cave entrance. Below is the approach trail while above is Bridge Mountain.
On the way up to the upper cave we had to scramble up this steep wall
Continuing up the canyon to the upper cave
Entrance to the upper cave
Inside the upper cave
The cave shows fewer signs of vandalism
The low ceiling of this chamber reduces it to a crawlspace
Above the upper cave entrance, the canyon appears worth exploring