Oklahoma's Alabaster Caverns keep cool in the midst of summer

Inside Alabaster Caverns the temperature is about 60 degrees this time of year. Outside temperatures can top triple-digits.
by Bryan Painter Modified: July 21, 2013 at 12:00 pm •  Published: July 21, 2013

They don't offer reverse tours at Alabaster Caverns State Park — so far.

Kim LaFon, a historical interpreter at the cave who leads tours, said some summer visitors have jokingly asked for such.

“Entering I hear them say ‘Ah this feels so good' and exiting it's ‘I want to go back,'” LaFon said. “There's a little more whining involved at the exit and I can understand because it is just so sudden.”

And by that, she is referring to the temperature change.

LaFon tells visitors that in a span of 45 minutes to an hour, they'll walk about three-quarters of a mile along a cavern trail. Included is going up and down about 330 steps. However, it's somewhere around the seventh step from the iron exit gate that will get you. Why?

In July and August, the temperature of the cave is about 60 degrees. But outside?

The Oklahoma Mesonet weather network site at Freedom, six miles north of Alabaster Caverns in northwest Oklahoma, provides an excellent contrast.

After 22 days of triple-digit temperatures in 2010 at Freedom, the number soared to 69 days the following year. That was followed by 43 days in 2012.

And even though it's been a little milder this year, Freedom had reached triple digits on 15 days this year through Thursday. That included 111 degrees on June 27.

Should I stay or ...

“They don't want to go back outside,” LaFon said of many visitors. “They usually ask if they can pay to stay in the cave or go back through backward because they don't want to go out into the heat.”

Recently, Christabell Gutierrez of Alva brought her brother Chris and sister-in-law Denise, who were visiting from the Albuquerque, N.M., area, to tour the cavern.

“I've been here when it's been really hot out,” Christabell said, “and I've had to wear a sweater in here so that it's not such a big shock to go outside.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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