My friend Blake Batchelor found this map in an old book about the Wichita Mountains that was published in 1978 by OU Press.
Blake noticed was a marker showing Spanish Cave (Natural) located on the western edge of the refuge. We thought the map might be in error because there is a Spanish Cave on the refuge but it's 4 or 5 miles east of that marker in Spanish Canyon. I ended up calling it Goonie Cave since this whole scenario seemed more like the plot of a movie. De Cooper got a a copy of the book, which set in motion several trips to the far western edge in search of this cave.
On May 30, 2016, De Cooper, Blake Batchelor, James Taylor and myself set out on a hike to find the elusive "Goonie Cave." For myself and De Cooper, this was one of several unsuccessful trips over the last few months to find the cave on the map. We both were thinking that it may not exist. We found a six foot snake skin right as we approach the area. A few minutes later, I stepped up on a boulder and startled and bobcat the size of a cocker spaniel.
We made it to the spot the map where I had explored the weekend before. This time there were four of us so we were able to cover more ground in a shorter amount of time. The cave was not there for sure. We split up into two groups of two and explored a little north of that map marker. Still nothing. The four of us reconvened after Blake found some elk antlers. We made a spot for them on top of a large boulder so they could bleach in the sun.
We were about to give up when we reached cool little canyon with some nice boulders for hopping on the other side. We noticed what we thought could be a cave but it our view blocked by a random tree. We made it to the spot and sure enough, we had found the elusive Spanish Cave (natural). Blake and De were the first to venture inside and they quickly exited after being greeted by a large snake of an unknown species. The (NATURAL) description on the map now made me think that the map maker may have been aware that there was a Spanish Cave in another part of the refuge. That cave looks to have been man-made to me. We had found it. We were all pretty excited about the find, and we really enjoyed scrambling on the boulders in that area.
Here's what De Cooper had to say about it,
"My friends and I set out on what would turn out to be multiple adventures to find what we've affectionately named Goonie Cave. This particular section of the refuge where the cave is located encompasses most of the western portion of the Refuge and is known as Charon's Gardens. This area is maintained as a primitive habitat so there are no marked trails, little shade and minimal running water, depending on the season. Hiking in this environment usually guarantees solitude and wildlife. Elk, deer, coyotes, rattlers, bobcats and mountain lions call this area home. It is best explored during the fall, winter and spring, October through April.
The hike is roughly between 5-6 miles round trip. To access the starting point you must drive to the far southwest corner of the refuge. From the Visitor Center (good place for up to date trail info/conditions, maybe find a volunteer guide) head west on Hwy 49 until you reach the old refuge headquarters, turn south on Indiahoma Road (sign for Treasure Lake Job Corps and Refuge HQ is at the intersection) and enjoy the view. This winding road takes you to your final destination, the small turnout parking lot known as Indiahoma Gate. This small pull out is feet from the cattle guard that is the exit of the Wildlife Refuge.
From the Indiahoma Gate parking lot, head directly north on the fence line, when the fence turns back west, continue along the fence line. DO NOT CROSS THE FENCE. WMWR is bordered by private property that is not open to the public. Continue to follow the fence until it turn back north. Follow this fence until it turns back west, at this intersection, you should begin your journey. The cave is directly north of the intersection, roughly 3/4 mile. The entrance to the cave is marked by a small tree covering the front. A small, white trailer will be in your view across the boundary fence, directly to the west and acts as your best indicator for location. Don't be discouraged by a failed first attempt and bring plenty of water. Happy hunting."