Photo: Ron Mader, Caverns (Some rights reserved)
South of Cuernavaca and close to the silversmithing town of Taxco are the Cacahuamilpa Caverns (Grutas de Cacahuamilpa), a national park. The caverns are located in the state of Guerrero 22 kilometers (14 miles) northeast of Taxco.
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The caverns are among the largest caves in North America, formed during the Jurassic Period when the Río dos Bocas carved out these tunnels. When the river shifted course, the cave drained. The river now flows 80 meters below the caverns.
Guided tours take visitors on a 2-kilometer (1.2-mile) concrete walkway. Among the attractions: surreal stalactite and stalagmite formations as well as an underground river. These caverns are impressive. Height varies from 30 to 70 meters. You walk back on the lighted path by yourself. Total time: 90 minutes – two hours.
The natural history is downplayed on most tours. Instead guides point out the human figures, animals, and fantastic creatures (‘the face of the devil,’ ‘the face of the devil when he’s older’). By the time the tour is over, you can point out the ‘Aztec Calendar’ and ‘Virgen de Guadalupe’ yourself. Tacky? Perhaps. But the caves are stunning.
On your way out, if you are interested and moderately fit, take the short trek to the valley of Río dos Bocas, where not just one but two rivers flow out of the hillside. It’s a steep decline, but the view is terrific.
The area became headline news in 1995 when a Canadian developer announced he would develop a sound and lights extravaganza (along with mechanically operated dinosaurs, a la Jurassic Park). The promotion fell through when environmentalists criticized the permitting process and the potential environmental impact.
More pop culture: Parts of the movie Tarzan and the Valley of Gold were filmed at the caverns.
There is an access fee. Tours leave every hour on the hour from 9am-5pm.
The caves are located along Highway 16, which can be reached from Alpuyeca and Taxco. Cuernavaca has direct buses from Pullman de Morelos every day.
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Grutas de Cacahuamilpa National Park