Colossal Cave Mountain Park: Visitors Center – 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.

The visitors/administrative complex is a massive stone edifice on the side of the hill at the main opening of the cave – one of the most beautiful CCC works in the west.  It was constructed on top of a supporting rock wall running for perhaps 100 yards along the face of the hillside.

The center includes a ticket booth, restrooms, store, ramada, garage and ranger residences. It also houses a museum that features handcrafted furniture, historic photographs and other objects.

On the terrace, CCC veterans paid for a life-size bronze statue of a CCC worker and plaque honoring the men of CCC camp SP-10, installed in the 1990s.

“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)


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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