The Set Up. Little did Steve Beckley know in 1982, after reading about the Fairy Caves in an old out-of-print book called Caves of Colorado, it would change his destiny. A petroleum engineer at the time, Beckley was fascinated by caves, especially the one in Glenwood Springs. He wrote to the cave owner, Pete Prebble every year to see if he could gain access to explore the cave. After being routinely turned down, Prebble caved and invited Steve up ten years later.
The Second Date. Steve and Jeanne had only just started dating in 1992. For their second date, he thought it would be fun to explore the Fairy Caves with his new love interest. “She had never even been inside a commercial cave, much less the kind of caving we were getting ready to do,” said Steve in the book “Eighth Wonder: The Story of the Glenwood Caverns and the Historic Fairy Caves.” For her part, Jeanne was game, although when asked to sign a waiver “in case anything happened,” she momentarily wondered what she was getting herself into.
The Tight Spot. Every love relationship goes through a few tight spots. While exploring the caves on their second date, the twosome had to wiggle through what is now called Jam Crack. At the time, squeezing through was the only way to reach the lower portions of the King’s Row cave. The narrow opening ranges from nine to 14 inches in width and is 20-feet in length. “It is very difficult even for experienced cavers, and I was nervous because I could tell Jeanne was having a hard time,” Steve recounted. Of her first-time caving, she said, “Lyle (the guide) asked me to take some deep breaths…He assured me the worst part was almost over. He wasn’t being entirely honest because it got a lot worse after that.”
The Surprise. The squeeze was worth it though and it was love at first sight. “When I looked around, it seemed like a different planet,” Jeanne said. “Everything was so pristine and beautiful. In Paradise, another cave room, everything glittered and looked like snowflakes covered the walls.” Steve said the couple, along with their guide, explored for hours before inching their way back up Jam Crack. Both were exhausted, exhilarated and determined to find a way to reopen the caves so the public could also enjoy the wonders of the underground world.
The Happy Ever After. Steve and Jeanne were married in 1994. Throughout the years, Steve kept in touch with Mr. Prebble, and in 1998, he leased the caves to the Beckleys with the option to purchase at some point in the future. The mountaintop rock shop, Prebble’s Pebbles is named after him. Glenwood Caverns opened on Memorial Day weekend in 1999. More than 33,000 people visited the caves in the first five months. Steve and Jeanne have two grown sons, are active members of the Glenwood Springs community and continue to improve the park for visitors.
Learn more fascinating stories about Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park and plan your visit to explore some of the most spectacular cave rooms in Colorado.