- the Official Site of Author Carol Cox


Cruisin’ Arizona – Colossal Cave

Love in Disguise by Carol Cox



When I was doing research for Love in Disguise, my family and I made a number of trips to Tombstone. Thankfully, they’re every bit as fascinated by the Old West as I am, so I didn’t even have to bribe them. Every time we drove past the signs for Colossal Cave Mountain Park, I felt a tug. Eventually, I talked my husband—the driver on most of these research expeditions—to pull off long enough to check it out…and I’m so glad I did! Not only did we have a wonderful time exploring, but our tour of the cave provided inspiration for several key scenes in the final chapters of the book.




The scenery itself is worth the side trip. The moment you step out of your vehicle at the visitor’s center, you’ll be greeted by panoramic views of the vast Sonoran Desert.


Colossal Cave 1 - Carol Cox

Keep your eyes open as you drive through the park, and you might spot mule deer, javelina, or coyotes. Bobcats and mountain lions also call this area home. In springtime, wildflowers bring a show of color to the desert floor. And, of course, there’s plenty of cactus, including spectacular stands of saguaros.

Colossal Cave 2 - Carol Cox


I could have spent hours enjoying the scenery, but the feature that called to me on this visit was out of sight at the moment—Colossal Cave itself. The cave has quite a history, being used by the Hohokam Indians some 1100 years ago and “rediscovered” by Solomon Lick while tracking stray cows in 1879.


Although the cave has been open for tours since 1923, it’s likely there are still areas that have yet to be discovered and explored. Peering into the maze-like passageways that branched off from the main path, my creative juices went into overdrive, and I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like to wander through the cavern on my own, without a guide.

Colossal Cave passageways - Carol Cox

Limestone formations in the cave take on fantastic shapes, and it was fun to give names to the different figures, kind of like seeing pictures in the clouds. What does this one remind you of? Seeing formations like this one made it easy to imagine Ellie spotting a likeness of Althea Baldwin, showing her the way out of the mine.


Colossal Cave - limestone formation - Carol Cox

According to the park’s website, the cave also serves as home to almost half the bat species found in Arizona. We did not encounter any bats the day I was there. Just for the record, I was okay with that.


Then there are the stories about the cave being used as a bandit hideout. According to local legend, back in the 1880s, bank robbers eluded the sheriff and holed up in the cave. When the sheriff tracked them down, he decided to wait in front of the cave until they poked their heads out again. Unbeknownst to the lawman, the cave had a back entrance, which the robbers used to make good their escape. What a great—if mostly fictional—story! It gave me a fun, new twist to use with the silver thieves in Love in Disguise. I could hardly wait to grab my laptop and start jotting down notes.


Next time you’re in Southern Arizona, you might want to budget in some time to visit Colossal Cave. If you’re traveling along I-10, take exit 279 and follow the signs for about 7 miles to discover one of the state’s lesser known treasures.


Have you ever visited Colossal Cave? If so, I’d love to hear about it! Or if you’ve enjoyed exploring a cave elsewhere, please share your experience with us. I’m always looking for additions to my list of places to visit someday!


Until next time…





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    Carol, I love exploring caves! Though I’ve been to several, I didn’t make it to Colossal Cave when I was in Arizona. Looks like a neat place, though. A couple of the most well known caves I’ve been to are Mark Twain’s Cave in Hannibal, MO. and Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. And several others that aren’t as well known. Mark Twain’s Cave was a lot of fun because of some of the stories that came out of the cave. Here’s a link to a little history you might be interested in.

    And I must tell you that while “Love in Disguise” was free on Amazon, my Aunt downloaded it and absolutely loved it! Have a great Thursday! 🙂

    Angi Griffis

    Mar 19, 2014 | Reply

    Angi, I’ve wanted to visit Mark Twain’s cave ever since I read Tom Sawyer, back in grade school. Thanks for sending the link. I had no idea of its earlier history, though. Oh, my! Mammoth Cave sounds fascinating, too. Maybe the next time I’m traveling back in that part of the country I’ll be able to visit one or both of those.

    And I’m glad your aunt enjoyed Love in Disguise. Thanks so much for letting me know!

    Carol Cox
    Carol Cox

    Mar 19, 2014 | Reply

    What fun! I have been there, but it was many years ago. We drove cross country one year from Arizona to Wisconsin and we stopped at every cave we saw a sign for along the way!

    Here’s one we visited –

    After all these years I remember it because the name was so unusual to us.

    Kathy Roeth

    Mar 24, 2014 | Reply

    Wow, that looks fascinating! Another reason to plan a trip to Missouri. Between you and Angi, I’m going to fill up my “places to visit” list in no time!

    Carol Cox
    Carol Cox

    Mar 24, 2014 | Reply

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