Our tour guide for Crystal Onyx Cave suggested Cub Run Cave as another system we might enjoy. It was close, and supposedly had a great restaurant where we could get lunch.
We pulled into the parking lot just as the tour group was leaving. Apparently we would have to drive about a mile away to the actual entrance. A man caught us and said he would take us down so that we wouldn’t have to wait another hour and a half for the next tour. We could just pay for the tour when we returned. He was very trusting.
We met up with one other couple, and the general manager of the cave himself led us in. The first thing we noticed was an active stream running through the cave. The second thing was noticed was that all of the fixtures looked new. It seems that the cave had just opened last year, after much legal wrangling over land ownership. Before one can sell tickets to a cave one must own not only all of the land over the cave, but also the mineral rights to that cave.
The galleries and rooms were much larger than Crystal Onyx Cave. While the density of decorations wasn’t as great, it still had much, much better formations than Mammoth.
Eventually we caught up with the rest of the tour group. This is where things started going downhill. The guide was a young lady who was totally self-absorbed. She was so interested in hearing herself talk about herself that she had no time for questions. In fact, she actually made fun of questions she had gotten on other tours. There was only the briefest smattering of information interspersed with pointing out formations shaped like wolves, the Titanic, etc., etc. We lingered at the back of the group and spent more time talking with the manager.
I guess this just goes to prove that a guide can make or break a tour, regardless of the quality of the cave. I think we still like Crystal Onyx the best of all we have visited, with Tuckaleechee running a close second.
After the tour, we went back and paid for what we had just seen, then had a nice meal at the restaurant. The owners seemed genuinely friendly. I almost wanted to warn them about their guide, but thought better of it.