Park and Cave History

History books might show Colorado’s own Cave of the Winds as being discovered 147 years ago, but the caves are actually millions of years old! As early legends of over a thousand years ago tell, the Jicarilla Apaches told of a cave near Manitou Springs where the Great Spirit of the Wind resided.

In 1869, a Colorado settler named Arthur B. Love noticed a thin cleft in the western wall of Williams Canyon. Upon further inspection, he discovered a dramatic limestone archway and cave entrance to what we know as Cave of the Winds Mountain Park.

In 1881, two brothers went exploring… 

Nothing much happened with the caves after that until 1880, when two brothers named George and John Pickett went exploring for new caves in the Williams Canyon area. As they were searching, the Pickett brothers found a small shelter cave near the same limestone archway that Love had discovered.

As they approached the mouth of the limestone entrance, legend has it that their candles flickered mysteriously in the wind blowing from a nearby crevice. This signaled them to explore further, and when they crawled through the limestone archway, they discovered a large chamber unlike anything ever seen before. This discovery promised the Pickett brothers an amazing and dramatic new underground world to explore, unlike anything ever experienced!

Excavation and Opening to the Public

Exploration of Cave of the Winds was further opened up by an Ohio stonecutter named George Washington Snyder, who came to Colorado seeking his fame and fortune. Late in 1880, Snyder excavated several passages of the stunning Williams Canyon caves and uncovered Canopy Hall. In awe of its beauty, Snyder said, it was as though Aladdin with his wonderful lamp had affected the magic result. After discovering the massive caves, he continued to excavate and began to offer guided tours in 1881. Electricity was brought into parts of the caves on July 4, 1907, making it even easier to tour certain caves. Operations have continued at Cave of the Winds since February of 1881, making it one of Colorado’s oldest and most famous attractions. In addition to the cave tours of years past, you can also experience our thrilling outdoor attractions today at Cave of the Winds Mountain Park!

Come discover what they found.