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Mitchell Caverns

Providence Mountains State Recreation Area

Located within the Mojave National Preserve

Update

The park has been closed since 2011 due to major infrastructure issues. The Department is in the process of repairing these crucial issues to get the park re open to the public.

Most buildings in the park have been repaired. The Cavern has been inspected. The Department is in the process of installing a new well and replacing the existing generators (since the park is operated solely on generator use). If all goes well, it is anticipated that the park will be re - opened to the public in late 2014.

There have been no tours of the Mitchell Caverns or the Providence Mountains SRA during this time. You can take a look inside Mitchell Caverns in this video - Click Here!

Mitchell Caverns

Mitchell Caverns

Mitchell Caverns are limestone caves that feature a wide variety of formations. Trips through the caverns are conducted by guided tours only and last about 1 1/2 hours. Although the tour is not strenuous, there is a half-mile walk to the cave entrance from the visitor center and another half-mile walk throught the caverns on uneven ground. The area became a California State Park in 1956 and still contains the only limestone caves in the California State Park system.

Mitchell Caverns entrance

Mitchell Caverns are primarily the result of sedimentary limestone and metamorphised limestone (marble) being dissolved by ground water high in carbonic acid content. After the dissolution, caverns were formed; the continued dripping of highly mineralized ground water into the caverns produced stalactites (dripstone deposits extending downward from the ceiling) and stalagmites (dripstone deposits building upward in mound-form from the floor).

Mitchell Caverns inside
Mitchell Caverns inside

Jack Mitchell was the first owner and promoter of Mitchell Caverns. The Caverns were hard to reach and there were little funds available to improve the roads. Jack had to improve the roads and build the rock facilities that are now used by the Park Service.

Even after opening the Caverns to the public, Jack Mitchell retained his interest in attempting to locate silver and other valuable deposits. The location of prospect holes and tunnels that he dug in this search, many along the Caverns' trail, can still be seen but have been blocked off as a safety precaution.

Mitchell Caverns consists of three basic caves that he called "El Pakiva," or the Devil's House; "Tecopa, " named for one of the last chiefs of the Shoshone Indians; and the deep and vertical "Winding Stair Cave," a dangerous cavern that is off-limits to the general public.

For many years it was thought that the Caverns were no longer "living," which means stalactites and stalagmites were not "growing." But heavy rains in some recent years have brought back some signs of life. Mitchell Caverns have been the subject of a number of scientific studies because they contain unusual formations not found in most other limestone caves.

Book Keeper of the Caves - Mitchell Caverns originally titled Jack Mitchell Caveman, this expanded second edition (2003) features many new photographs, restores the missing chapter on famous botanist Mary Beal and includes a foreword by renowned Mojave Desert historian, Dennis Casebier.

For Video Tour of Mitchell Caverns

Continued on page 2 -- More photo and map. The tour information has been left on this site for reference purposes only as Mitchell Caverns is currently closed.

 

 

 

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