If you’re driving south on Highway 89, about five miles before you hit Kanab you’ll see what might seem like just another desert tourist trap. That was my initial reaction, so I cannot fully explain what it was about Moqui Cave that caused me to pull over a few hundred yards farther, flip the truck around, pull into the gravel parking lot and hand over five bucks to Lex Chamberlain.
As it happens, that was not a bad decision at all.
Lex greets visitors at the door … make that cave entrance … and listens and talks with a genuine interest … about anything you want to talk about — history, geology, Mormons (he is a proud member of the church), where to find the library in Kanab.
The cave is about 200 feet deep and has displays throughout. The museum aspect of the place is a nice change from the sterile displays you normally see in park visitor centers, and the many artifacts are authentic and well displayed. Most were gathered from within 30 miles of the place. It also has a large collection of dinosaur tracks.
The deepest and darkest part is really cool, featuring several display cases of naturally fluorescent minerals. Mother nature puts on a spectacular show, and the chamber glows with all sorts of colors.
Lex is interesting to chat with, but you leave equally impressed with his father, Garth, who bought this place in 1951 when it was nothing but a cave covered with graffiti and soot from years of campfires. He turned it into a bar and dance hall and then into what it is today. Garth played football for the Steelers in 1945-46, earning $450. He became an expert silversmith and woodcarver and came to be called Chief Many Talents.
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