Geology/Mining Itinerary

From the explosive force of a volcano to water’s slow seepage through tiny crevices deep inside the earth, forces have shaped geologic wonders.

Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns has been called one of the world’s top 10 living caves. You can see massive stalactites and stalagmites on two tours. Meticulously preserved, it is a beautiful show cave. Allow at least two hours to explore the Discovery Center and take the tour.

Blue Opal Gallery 
Fire in Blue. The brilliance and iridescence in opals is called fire. And this fire is dramatic. The finest of these rare gems can command $500 a karat. The only active blue opal mine is in the Sierra Vista area. Discovered over 30 years ago, the mine yields blue opals in every shade of blue. This rare gem is cut locally; then designed and set into one-of-a-kind jewelry pieces.

Coronado Cave in Coronado National Memorialonado
Next, travel to Sierra Vista and see a different cave. The Coronado Cave is approximately 600 feet in length, 20 feet high and 70 feet wide. It is accessed by a three quarter mile trail from the Visitor Center. Allow two hours for a leisurely, round trip hike and visit to this little jewel of a cave. Make sure you bring sturdy hiking shoes, water and a fully charged flashlight!

Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum 
Bisbee’s past is recorded and retold in the Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, the first museum in the Southwest to be designated a Smithsonian affiliate. Once the headquarters of the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company (later purchased by Phelps Dodge Corporation), the museum is in the center of Old Bisbee.

Queen Mine Tour 
Led by former Phelps Dodge employees, visitors outfitted in a hard hat, miner’s headlamp and yellow slicker travel 1,500 feet into the mine. The miners recount their mining days, telling about mining techniques and the unique drama of the hard rock drilling life.

Lavender Jeep Mining Landscape Tour 
More than a century of active mining leaves remnants. These remnants are often hard to find. Hop in to a Lavender Jeep. The guides will help you identify mining industry remnants that are tucked among the hills and valleys of the area’s mining district. Headframes, which once lowered miners into the earth and brought out the rich copper ore, and remote shacks are among the items you’ll see.

Good Enough Mine Tour
A walking tour of the restored 1878 “Good Enough Mine” that town founder, Ed Schieffelin, discovered. Tombstone’s wealth and fame was fueled by money from the area’s mines before they flooded.

The Rose Tree Museum 
Tombstone’s Rose Tree Museum has a large collection of mining artifacts and historic maps of the town’s mining claims in addition to its being the site of the world’s largest rosebush covering 9,000 square feet.

Texas Canyon
Along Interstate 10 you’ll see some massive boulders. This is Texas Canyon, where the town of Dragoon is located. Stop for a picnic at the Amerind Foundation (a Native American museum tucked within the valley of boulders) and explore the geologic wonders.

Chiricahua  National Monument
The Apache called the formations in Chiricahua National Monument the “land of the standing up rock.” The rocks seem to stand at full attention. You can drive into the park, but to really appreciate the spectacular formations, hike one of the park’s many trails.

In the mining heydays of the late 1800s, Douglas boomed as a town, because Phelps Dodge located its smelter here. The smelter processed millions of pounds of copper, financing much of the town’s growth. Cattle ranching and trading also played a part.

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