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Underground Attractions in the West

Pendleton's dark side comes to light underground.

Via Staff
Yucca Mountain in Nevada, an aerial view, image
Photo caption
Yucca Mountain near Las Vegas offers limited tours.

From the Space Needle to the Golden Gate Bridge, the West has its share of terrific cloud-capped sights. But you may be surprised to discover a number of attractions that don't see the light of day.

Bachelor-Syracuse Mine Ouray, Colo. What went into mining Gold Hill's $50 million in gold and silver? Don a rain suit and helmet and ride a mine cart 3,350 feet into the mountain to find out. (888) 227-4585.

Beringer Vineyards St. Helena, Calif. In 1876, Chinese laborers dug a wine cellar deep into a hillside. Explore these still-used limestone tunnels at one of Napa's oldest wineries. (707) 963-7115,

Bill Speidel's Underground Tour Seattle. Following an 1889 fire, Pioneer Square was rebuilt on its former site. Stroll the subterranean sidewalks past old storefronts and hear about the Emerald City's scandals in the early 1900s. (206) 682-4646,

Creede Underground Mining Museum Creede, Colo. Blasted-out tunnels house the museum's mining exhibits and two community centers. Firefighters and miners even carved a firehouse into the mountain. (719) 658-0811.

Forestiere Underground Gardens Fresno, Calif. The roots—from orange trees to date palms—run deep at Baldasare Forestiere's 40-room subterranean dwelling. (559) 271-0734.

Glenwood Caverns Glenwood Springs, Colo. Seeing one stalactite isn't seeing them all. Worm your way through more than 16,000 feet of tunnels and passageways to view cave popcorn, soda straws, and frostwork. (970) 945-4228, (800) 530-1635,

Hidden Cave Fallon, Nev. This prehistoric cave served early inhabitants as a self-storage facility for food, tools, and other supplies. Free tours offered twice each month. (775) 423-3677,

Pendleton Underground Tours Pendleton, Ore. This town's shady past, from a speakeasy to a bordello, is buried in freight tunnels built by Chinese workers in the 19th century. (800) 226-6398,

Yucca Mountain Science Center Las Vegas. The proposed underground site for the nation's nuclear waste offers very limited tours; (707) 295-5555. Get an overview of the project at the center; (800) 225-6972,

Photography courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy

This article was first published in July 2002. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.