Featuring a number of natural wonders such as the Cadillac Range, Willy's Butte, the Tail Light Caverns, and waterfalls, it once served as a lure for travelers on Route 66, with many people staying at the Wheel Well Motel. However, construction of the interstate bypassed much of the area and the town, and it faded into obscurity. However, when Sally Carrera stumbled into Radiator Springs, the beauty of Ornament Valley convinced her to stay. When Lightning McQueen made Radiator Springs his headquarters, more visitors to Ornament Valley came as a result.
As described in National Parks-style signage at Cars Land:
How was it formed?
These magnificent buttes, pinnacles and tailfins represent sedimentary layers of soft red shale, sandstone and limestone exposed by millions of years of wind, rain and black ice erosion. Other contributors to the ornament formations are the combined forces of the Radiator River and the Lincoln Continental Drift. Most of the rocks are from the Automozoic Period, recording events that took place on the North American continent long before the first wheel ever roamed the earth. The stunning colors of this landscape are created as iron and other materials stain the steep rock wall surfaces, caves and wheel wells.
The Cadillac Range was formed when the westward-moving North American Plate collided with the eastern-moving Pacific Plate. As the plates crashed in this busy intersection they buckled, which caused the mountain range to form at the contact point. Four thousand feet below the Cadillac Range are the oldest schists and gneisses of this region: the LaSalleous and Eldoradomorphic rocks known as the Coupe Group.
Points of interest
Many of these locations otherwise not named in film were first named and identified at Cars Land.
The Cadillac Range is the primary feature of Ornament Valley. Looming over Radiator Springs, they are a set of six mountains resembling the tailfins of classic Cadillac cars from 1957 to 1962, with Mount '57 being the tallest of the six peaks.
They are inspired by the Cadillac Ranch, an art attraction along Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas.
Willy's Butte is a rock formation resembling a hood ornament adjacent to a dirt racing track that Doc Hudson uses to teach Lightning McQueen to drift. It later becomes home to the Radiator Springs Grand Prix.
From the earliest years of manufacture to the many decades to follow, this streamlined butte has inspired generations of hood ornament sculptors working in the medium of chrome.
Firewall Falls is the waterfall visited by Lightning McQueen and Sally Carrera during their romantic drive in Cars.
This dramatic plunge type of waterfall is the result of the Radiator River joining the Hood Springs to flow over the area's most erosion-resistant rock formation.
Tail Light Caverns
Tail Light Caverns serves as the load/unload area for Radiator Springs Racers.
The formation of Tail Light Caverns began over 3 million years ago when rainwater, made acidic from the air and soil, seeped down through the ground. At the same time, hydrogen sulfide gas migrated upward from oil deposits to turn the underground water into sulfuric acid. This combination of corrosive events slowly created four large chambers and 23 miles of underground passageways. The incredible array of stalaclight and stalaglight formations began 500,000 years ago when acidic water, dripping slowly through the limestone into the caverns, absorbed a bit of the mineral lenslite. Billions and billions of drops later, thousands of formations had taken shape. Where water dripped from the ceiling, stalaclights appeared. Water falling on the floor created stalaglight. Sometimes the two joined together, forming a fender bender.
Stanley's Oasis and the Original Radiator Spring
On August 2, 1909, traveling radiator cap salesman Stanley was driving through the sweltering heat of Ornament Valley. Running low on coolant, he discovered a natural spring of cool water emerging from a rock formation shaped like a small car's radiator. He decided to establish a small shop at the Radiator Spring to serve other desert travelers and sell radiator caps and other accessories, with his store eventually expanding into a full town.
Wheel Well Motel
- Main article: Wheel Well Motel
The source of the river is Cracked Block Rock National Park. It flows into Firewall Falls and continues through the valley before turning abruptly west at the Grand Prix Canyon. The river ends at the Brake Fluid Reservoir, a popular site among the motorhome community.
This radiator cap shaped mesa lies directly behind the Radiator Springs City Hall and like many mountain/desert towns, is marked with the town's initials in white stone piles.
Mount Ever Rust
A peak located between Mount '59 and Mount '60 of the Cadillac Range
This canyon regulates the airflow of the entire valley. In early spring, the area is throttled with a large migration of butterfly valves.
A geothermal feature resembling a balanced rock on a high precipice. Whenever a buildup of pressurized thermal exhaust escapes from this natural vent, its backfire rattles every window in Carburator County.
Double Clutch Gulch
Rich in legend and lore, this gulch contains many historical treasures including petrol-glyphs. Here wild tractors roam and john deere play.
Lost Cap Cave
Prior to the discovery of the natural springs, overheated travelers drove into this mysterious cave to let off steam. To this day, no one can explain why the steam is still there.
Cars Bad Caverns
Located 0.3 miles below the rock surface of Mount Hood. Contains a number of scenic rooms
- Lost Wheel Arch
- Mount Hood
- Tire Flats
- Lincoln Continental Divide
- Ornament Valley is a reference to Monument Valley.
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