PAIGE JOHNSON | THE SPECTRUM
About 50 to 60 million years old, Grutas de García are a natural cave formation in the Cerro del Fraile mountain north of Monterrey.
In 1843, Father Juan Antonio Sobrevilla was walking through the mountains when he discovered las Grutas de García, or García Caves.
The caves are estimated to be between 50 and 60 million years old. In total, they stretch 300 meters long and reach 105 meters deep. Sometime during their past, the caves were completely submerged in the ocean, leaving fossils behind as the only remnants of its inhabitants.
Nestled in the Cerro del Fraile, part of El Fraile mountain, Grutas de García are a quick day trip away from Monterrey. During the drive north, the landscape shifts from metropolitan to rocky, desert landscape.
The entrance to Grutas de García is isolated from García proper, but this provides an inhibited view of the impressive mountain scape that surrounds the cave entrance. This entrance isn’t available to just walk into: cave goers must wait for a lift to take them up the side of the mountain and deposit them at the tour starting point.
The first room you enter is named “El salón del aire” (The Air Chamber), which is named for the swift winds that whip around the 40-meter-high space.
El salón del aire is only the beginning when it comes to Grutas de García’s formations. Spectators walk past many as they make their way through the cave, including: “El teatro,” a space that resembles a stage and is illuminated with colorful lights; “El infierno,” a pit colored red that appears to be the entrance to Hell; “La mano del muerto,” shaped like the hand of death reaching up.
Some of Grutas de García’s most recognized formations are “El salón de la luz” and “La octava maravilla.” “El salón de la luz” is a large space that has two natural openings at the top that let in two columns of natural light into the room. When the lights are turned off, these openings illuminate the entire atrium with natural light.
“La octava maravilla” is like its name suggests: a wonder. This formation, rarely found in nature, consists of a stalagmite and a stalactite, both the same length, touching in the middle of their formation to form a perfect column.
Within the cave, natural formations have also given citizens space to worship. In “La capilla,” “the chapel,” cave visitors have transformed the cave into an altar for the Virgin Mary. Her icon exists in a natural alcove and is surrounded by offerings, including flowers.
Grutas de García is a stunning site to visit if travelers are in the area and can spare a day to take in its natural beauty.