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By The Way
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The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Tourists rescued after being stuck underground at Grand Canyon Caverns

Five tourists were rescued at Grand Canyon Caverns in Peach Springs, Ariz., after getting stuck 21 stories underground when an elevator malfunctioned. (Google Maps)
2 min

Five people were rescued Monday night after being stranded 200 feet underground at Grand Canyon Caverns when the tourist attraction’s only elevator broke down, officials said.

The group had descended 21 stories in the elevator Sunday for a tour of the caverns in Peach Springs, Ariz., Coconino County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Jon Paxton told The Washington Post on Tuesday morning.

But when it was time to go back up, the elevator was out of order, so they faced a decision: Climb back up 21 flights of stairs or wait for rescue. Some of the tourists, who ranged in age from their 20s to their 70s, were not in a physical condition to use the stairs, so the group chose to wait underground, Paxton said.

The one bright spot in this deep, dark story is that they didn’t have to sleep on the cavern’s floor. The visitors stayed at a suite located at the bottom of the tourist attraction while they were stuck waiting, Paxton said.

The suite, advertised as the “deepest, darkest, quietest, hotel room in the world,” sleeps up to six people and costs $1,000 per night for two people, according to the cavern’s website. It includes two queen beds, a fully functioning RV-style bathroom, a kitchenette and a living room area with a television. It also has a small restaurant that served the group of stranded tourists.

The tourist site offers a 45-minute history tour, climbing tours and a lights-off tour. It also has its own wedding chapel.

Authorities used an emergency lift to bring the tourists back to the surface one-by-one on Monday after workers advised them it would take longer to repair the elevator, according to Paxton.

“We gave them the option,” Paxton told The Post. “They could wait for tomorrow for the crew to fix the elevator or they could to be lifted. They chose to be lifted.”

They were rescued around 7:30 p.m. and were all in good condition.

Grand Canyon Caverns did not immediately respond to messages from The Post.