Tucked underground and out-of-sight, finding one Colorado attraction took some curiosity and a little bit of luck. Located within the limestone of Williams Canyon near Manitou Springs, the first documented discovery of the Cave of the Winds was by two explorers in the late 1800s.
Brothers George and John Pickett had set out to discover new caves in the area and had come across legends told by the Jicarilla Apaches, who were a band of the Eastern Apache, that referenced a cave near Manitou Springs. As the legends said, the cave was home to the Great Spirit of the Wind.
The Pickett brothers made their discovery when they caught wind of the caves from a deep crevice that made their candles flicker "mysteriously." The brothers crawled through a limestone hole and discovered a large chamber within the rocks.
Tours at Cave of the Winds began in 1881, when a stonecutter from Ohio named George Washington Snider came to Colorado in hopes of becoming famous. In 1880, Snider excavated several tunnels through the wondrous caves of Williams Canyon, leading to the discovery of Canopy Hall.
Today, an electrically-lit tour takes visitors through a half-mile of the caves along concrete walkways and 196 stairs. Visitors can also opt for a spooky, mile-long walking tour through the caves led by only candlelight. This tour takes visitors through dark, narrow tunnels to the Manitou Grand Caverns.