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Route 66 News

Long-closed Mitchell Caverns slated to reopen in November

Mitchell Caverns, a Mojave Desert site off Route 66 that has been closed since 2011 because of varying infrastructure problems, will reopen Nov. 3 on a limited schedule.

An official with California State Parks announced the reopening Friday, reported the Press-Enterprise.

It will open at 8 a.m. Friday through Sunday and on holidays until the park hires more staff. Tours will be given at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on those days.

A campground at the caverns is expected to open in another six months.

Park officials had hoped to open Mitchell Caverns by spring but decided to replace a septic tank and finish trails after summer heat had dissipated.

When it was announced early this year Mitchell Caverns would be reopened, state officials said they had spent $400,000 to shore up the shuttered facility. That undoubtedly was made more difficult after vandalism was reported at the site in 2012.

The caverns are named after Jack Mitchell, who with his wife, Ida, owned and operated the caves from 1934 to 1954 as a rest stop and attraction for nearby Route 66 travelers. The closest town is the Route 66 hamlet of Essex. The area became a state recreation area not long after Jack Mitchell’s death.

Mitchell Caverns also was used in a scene in “The Doors,” a 1991 film about the 1960s and ’70s rock band.

(Image of the inside of Mitchell Caverns in 2010 by Steven Miller via Flickr)

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