Colossal Cave Mountain Park: Cave Access – Vail AZ


The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) carried out major work at Colossal Cave and the surrounding park north of Vail AZ (now a suburb of Tucson, but far to the east in the 1930s). They improved access for visitors to the cave itself, built a large visitors’/administration center, laid out a campground and picnic area, opened roads and trails and built a water supply system.  The Arizona State Park Service oversaw the work.

Work inside Colossal Cave included widening the entrance and passageways, installing rock walkways and handrails, and added lighting and a water pipeline. This work was done in 1934-37 by CCC enrollees of camp SP-10 in the park.

“Colossal Cave Mountain Park was a great example of community advocacy; cave operator, Frank Schmidt, Tucson Chamber of Commerce, Pima County Board of Supervisors, and Arizona State Legislature and Land Department worked together to secure CCC labor and funds to develop the cave. Supporters believed that Colossal Cave would become an important tourism asset, and, 75 years later, it still brings visitors and jobs to the local community.” (U of Arizona library)

A side note: it is not true, as state by the U of Arizona website, that “Colossal Cave was the only cave development project undertaken by the CCC in the West.”  The CCC also worked on the Lehman Cave at what is now Great Basin National Park in Nevada.

Source notes

Audretsch, Robert and Sharon Hunt, 2014. The Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona. Charleston SC: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 18-19.

"The New Deal in Arizona: Connections to Our Historic Landscape," University of Arizona, The New Deal in Arizona Chapter of the National New Deal Preservation Association.

The above quote and photos can be found at:


Project originally submitted by Richard A Walker on November 12, 2019.
Additional contributions by Joan Greer.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

16721 E. Old Spanish Trail
Vail, AZ 85641

Coordinates: 32.0620968, -110.6335742

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