The Best Caves in Arizona, USA: Complete List

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Arizona, with its red rock landscape and fascinating tunnels, is one of the most scenic states in the country. Instead of following the crowds to the Grand Canyon or Sedona, try going caving for a more unique experience. With over 1000 caves in Arizona, this list is far from complete, but still extensive enough to ensure a quality trip.

Something that sets Arizona apart is a wide variety of preserved ruins from centuries ago. Some of these ancient pueblos and corridors are quite easily accessible, while others are a bit of a trek or not open to the public. In this list, we’ve included several of the more well-known locations.

Arizona puts a high value on its caves because of their importance in the state’s history and the environment. The National Park Service views interference with or damage to any part of these sites as a crime.

Despite the hot and humid weather outside, the caves are always a moderate 70 degrees. This guide highlights a list of Arizona’s top caves for exploring.

Apache Death Cave

A network of underground caves known as the Apache Death Cave can be found in the picturesque city of Winslow, Arizona. Many Native American artifacts have been unearthed from the depths of these caves, which stretch for kilometers beneath the sandstone.

Most likely due to its location in a deserted town, this cave is the subject of numerous urban legends. Consequently, there are no guided tours of this cave. Don’t blame us if you get hurt if you decide to go in there. Caves in Arizona are teeming with rattlesnakes, especially those rarely visited by humans.

A large pile of rocks and boulders shields a large cave from view.

Birthing Cave (or Subway Cave) in Sedona

Hikers can access a multitude of underground caves in Sedona, Arizona. The Birthing Cave is one of the quickest and most convenient caves to explore. This 2-mile hike takes only about an hour if you’re in good shape and keep a good pace. This is a famous climb in Sedona, and taking pictures in the cave is a challenge.

The Hopi people, the original inhabitants of Sedona, gave the cave its name, the Birthing Cave. When the time came for the women to have their kids, they journeyed to the Birthing Cave. They found it to be a spiritually energizing and inspiring environment.

An image of Birthing Cave found in Sedona, Arizona, with a view of the desert and hills in the background.

Colossal Cave

As Arizona’s largest cave system, Colossal Cave features some of the state’s most exciting adventures. One can learn more about the cave’s history, tales, and geological composition by following a half-mile guided walk through some caving systems.

The typical duration of the guided tour is one hour. The cave’s over 400 steps take you deep underneath. There are helicities, stalagmites, and stalactites to see on the route. The “Old Baldy” structure is the only one in the cave that tourists can touch.

A sign says Colossal Cave, and a gate bars entry to these massive Arizona caves.

Emerald Cave

Around the Colorado River sits the expansive Lake Mead Recreation Area. For all the heat and desert that Arizona is known for, you probably don’t expect any sea caves.

But Emerald Cave awaits. Knowing the general structure of the region is helpful for figuring out how to reach it. Some of the park follows the Colorado River downstream from the Hoover Dam. The Black Canyon National Water Trail and the Black Canyon Wilderness are here.

Taking a kayak tour is the most popular way to check out Emerald Cave. Several alternatives can be found nearby. The typical tour group size is between 5 and 15 people. The party paddles up the river, often accompanied by a guide who shares stories and advice. Common pit stops include those with swimming and snacking opportunities.

Many canyons and hot springs along the river can be discovered by exploring the region. The greatest way to see the region and even get inside Emerald Cave is by kayak. The beautiful Emerald Cave may be found along the state line between Arizona and Nevada.

Two kayaks are pictured on the water, with deep green-blue water and massive rock cliffs ahead.

Fortaleza Indian Ruins

The Fortaleza Ruins, whose name translates to “Fort on a Hilltop” in Spanish, stand relatively close to Gila Bend, Arizona. The strategic placement of this old Hohokam settlement made it easy to defend.

With sixty or more rooms included in its construction at one point, many remain visible today. On the rocks along the trail to the site, you can find a wide variety of petroglyphs. Despite exposure to the elements for nearly a millennium, these petroglyphs are still legible.

Some more Indian ruins are shown here, made of brick and half lit by sunlight with grass growing all the way up to the base.

Grand Canyon Caverns

The Grand Canyon Caverns are the largest dry cavern in the United States. Located within a limestone cave, you must take an elevator down 21 stories, or 200 feet, to the cave’s spooky surroundings. These are some of the most popular caves in Arizona, due to 250,000 people visiting the Grand Canyon per year.

When you reach the cave’s depths, you may take several different walking tours to learn more about the cave’s history and features. The off-trail guided trip, which takes more than two hours and involves trekking within the cave, is ideal for the more daring tourist who wishes to explore less-visited places and witness unusual formations.

Rainbow colored artificial lighting illuminates the Grand Canyon Caverns caves in Arizona.

Kartchner Caverns

Within Kartchner State Park are the stunning Kartchner Caverns. There are many hidden nooks and crannies in the caves, including possibly the longest stalactite structure in the world.

These limestone caverns were discovered in 1974 and are the dwelling place of a sizable bat population in addition to some scarce minerals and geological structures. The stalagmites and stalactites in the cave are still expanding, though it’s difficult to tell. Visit the nearby Discovery Center to learn more about the bats and fossils discovered there.

Massive pillars and stalagmites are lit up by artificial lighting, showing the Kartchner Caverns.

Keyhole Cave in Sedona

Keyhole Cave is a must-see if you are interested in caves and the natural windows they generate. Even though its impressive entrance can be seen from far away, this cave is located far from the path of most tourists.

Those who are terrified of heights or who are not up for the effort of climbing 10+ feet of slick rock should not attempt the trip to this Sedona cave. Discovering this one is a genuine quest. Sugarloaf Trailhead is hidden away in a residential area of Sedona, and it is the starting point for the climb to Keyhole Cave. Entering the address into Google Maps will take you straight there.

A view from the inside of Keyhole Cave, looking out at the canyon outside, as a person sits at the cliff edge.

Kinishba Ruins

Although the Kinishba Ruins aren’t popular, they definitely deserve your time if you find yourself down that way. Incredible man-made marvels await your inspection. Some of the remains in this area are fairly tall, and they previously housed a population of over a thousand people.

The Kinishba Ruins are shown with a large brick chimney and mostly dirt.

Lava River Cave

The long lava tube known as Lava River Cave is located in the middle of the Coconino National Forest. According to legend, a volcanic outburst over 700,000 years ago resulted in the formation of the cave. The cave’s enigmatic lava channel and the adjacent caverns are open to exploration by the public today.

Even in the middle of summer, the cave may get down to about 30 degrees, so be sure to dress warmly. As getting to the cave is an own excursion, preparation is key. While planning your trip, check out our list of the top camping spots in Arizona so you can make the most of the state’s stunning natural scenery.

A glimpse at the dark and formation-packed Lava River Cave.

Montezuma Castle

Visit Camp Verde, Arizona, to see the ruins at Montezuma Castle National Monument and the caves within. Indulge in the desert’s natural splendor by taking a tour or going on a hike, and then stop for a picnic at the Beaver Creek picnic area to refuel and relax. You can find it on Montezuma Castle Road in Camp Verde, Arizona.

Despite its destruction, this once-majestic Castle still commands admiration for its impressive architecture. The interior and outside of this home, once inhabited by Native Americans more than a millennium ago, are now open to the public.

You may also visit the bookstore and museum, which feature artifacts unearthed from the ruins. These artifacts reveal information about the indigenous people that inhabited this area previously.

Learn more about Montezuma Castle here.

An image of Montezuma Castle National Monument, from a distance looking up at the cliff side.

Navajo National Monument

The three enormous pueblos at Shonto, Arizona, are protected and made available for educational purposes thanks to the Navajo National Monument. The Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years, as the archeological finds show.

You may see these fantastic pueblos and the area around them on either a guided or self-directed tour. If you’re visiting the park, be sure to stop by the Park Store to pick up some souvenirs and educational materials; the money you spend there goes right back into the park to support activities like cultural demonstrations and the Junior Ranger Program.

A large series of rooms makes up these three pueblos, made on the edge of a cliff and available via the Navajo National Monument. Records show they are thousands of years old.

Palatki Cliff Dwelling

The Palatki Cliff Dwelling ruins are in Sedona. They are similar to the Honanki Heritage Site, which can be found at the same general site. The public is welcome to see the Palatki Cliff Dwellings in the Coconino National Forest, which are reachable via trail.

One trail leads to a lookout over the ruins, and the other features Native American pictographs; both are well worth exploring. These trails are not suitable for wheelchairs or strollers but are not particularly tough to hike. Because of its small size and limited parking, this park recommends calling ahead to make reservations for your visit.

Several caves are shown with pillars separating some tunnels at the Palatki Cliff Dwelling in Sedona, Arizona.

Phoenix Bat Cave

This bat cave isn’t like the one in the DC Universe. But you can still witness an incredible sight, as 10,000 to 20,000 bats flock here during their migration to Mexico. Similar to Bracken Cave in Texas, this flood control tunnel is packed with Mexican Free-Tailed Bats, which emerge at night to hunt. However, it’s just a tunnel, rather than a massive cavern like Bracken Cave or others.

To get here, walk north west from 40th Street and Camelback on the northernmost end of the Arizona Canal Trail. The bats are visible just before dusk and will fly around in patterns for hours, as they perform a natural pest control unlike any other. They don’t seem to fear humans either, so they may fly very close by if you stand still.

An image shows one opening of the flood control tunnel named the Phoenix Bat Cave.

Roger’s Canyon Cave Ruin

The cliff house remains of Roger’s Canyon may be found in the Superstitious Wilderness between Phoenix and Globe. This cave house reportedly comprised over sixty chambers and could have housed up to a hundred individuals eight hundred years ago.

Although most of the original construction has been destroyed by time, this cave house is still among the best preserved of its kind in the region. The ruins are open for access by anyone, located in a network of caves cut into the cliff face.

Roger's Canyon shows a cliff house made of brick from 800 years ago, and some more Arizona caves that can be explored in the background.

Tonto National Monument

When the Salado Phenomenon occurred 700 years ago in what is now Roosevelt, Arizona, it brought together people from many distinct Native American cultural traditions.

The Tonto National Monument exists to protect two cliff houses in the Salado region, both of which are in excellent condition today as a result.

Comparatively, the Lower Cliff Dwelling has only forty rooms, whereas the Upper Cliff Dwelling boasts an astounding eighty. Speculators believe that each room served as living quarters for a single-family and had its fire pit. The smoke marks from the abandoned kitchen fires are still visible on the walls and ceilings.

A glimpse upward at the massive mouth of the cave of Tonto National Monument.

Tuzigoot National Monument

A pueblo was established on a hill near present-day Camp Verde, Arizona, a thousand years ago. The entire pueblo, with all 110 rooms, is still standing today.

Views of the Verde River and Tavasci Marsh await you at the end of the short trek leading to the pueblo. This pueblo welcomes visitors who can explore its many chambers and marvel at the remarkable architecture that has survived the centuries.

Several brick dwellings are shown here, dated to about a thousand years ago. The 110 caves or rooms are still standing here in Camp Verde, Arizona today.

Walnut Canyon National Monument

At Walnut Canyon National Monument, you can explore 25 cave houses. All of them are easily accessible along the 1-mile-long Island Trail. Explore the caves and imagine life for the first people to live here, before the state was called Arizona.

There are additional caves to be viewed along the walk, but visitors are not allowed to stray off the designated paths or explore them for conservation reasons.

If you want to view the caves and other unique geological features, plan your trip and check the park website for changes in hours of operation, trail closures, or weather-related closures.

A distant image taken of Walnut Canyon National Monument in Arizona, where 25 caves are accessible.

White Mountains Area Ruins

Springerville, Arizona, has the White Mountains Archaeological Center and Casa Malpais Archaeological Park. Active archaeological excavations await you at the White Mountains Archaeological Center. It is believed that 800 rooms once made up the ruins at the Raven Site, which are currently being explored.

Wukoki Pueblo

The Wukoki Pueblo, which can be found in the Wupatki National Monument, is a stunning location from which to take in the natural beauty of the area. The pueblo is situated at an altitude of more than 4,000 feet, providing a breathtaking panorama of the surrounding desert.

You can explore all seven of this pueblo’s rooms, and multiple families are assumed to have shared these quarters. Another impressive structure is a tower with three stories that have survived. The walk to this pueblo is short and precise, covering about 0.2 miles to the village’s doorstep.

An image looking up at the Wukoki Pueblo ruins, where a railing is shown and much is worn from age.

Wupatki National Monument

Wupatki National Monument was occupied by Native American pueblos more than 900 years ago, and these pueblos have survived to the present day. The Wupatki Pueblo is notable for having over a hundred rooms. The limestone rocks near the Lomaki Pueblo, a smaller pueblo with only 9 rooms, are rich with fossils from the Permian period.

Hikers can pick up trail maps and learn more about the park’s pueblos, displays, and ranger-led activities at the visitor center.

An image from a distance of Wupatki National Monument and the caves and ruins from 900 years ago.


Although exploring tunnels and caverns may sound like a good time, these underground spaces are essential for many reasons. Human interference or destruction would be disastrous, so it’s smart to dress for the weather and bring gloves on your explorations. Bare hands touching cave formations and walls might stunt their development.

If you’re considering more states to explore, check these neighboring states next:

Utah Caves

California Caves

New Mexico Caves

Nevada Caves

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