Coronado Cave at Coronado National Monument, Arizona

Driving south-east from Tucson, and then south from just before Benson, Arizona, I was amazed at the amount of vegetation in the desert and the apparent height of some of the local mountains (fresh snow down to about 5,000 feet will give that impression rather easily).

After a long ride I was totally amazed at the size of the town of SierraVista.  Expected to encounter a village, but found a city.  But, I kept going south until just before the Mexican border where the Coronado National Monument is located.

This is the monument headquarters where the very friendly staff had me sign in for my free pass.  She told me I was the first visitor for the day to enter the cave, and asked for assurance that I had the required two flashlights.
 

Just off the parking lot was the start of the cave trail:

The trail follows a drainage for a while:

Then it moves up more steeply, and after a while it begins to appear that the endpoint is somewhere near the base of that mountain straight ahead:

As that mountain is approached, the trail gets steeper:

And steeper:

But when the going appears to be getting real tough, all of a sudden, there are stairs!

What a nice surprise!  Follow the stairs and, eventually, there is this sight:  the cave!

Now it is time to enter the cave, and we will do so on the next page.

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