UA Tunnels – Getting In

This is perhaps the most daunting & troublesome aspect of almost any urban spelunking, Getting In. For the UA tunnel system, it’s not different.

When ever entering a facility or location, always consider three things: Your Entrance, The Security, & Your Exit.
The Tunnel Entrance:
Tunnels have two types of access points – above ground and underground.
Above ground access points are man-holes and vents, as well as a few exterior doors. For the former simply lift the covers from the small holes and climb down the ladder. (be sure to close the hole up behind you, else some poor student will fall and not only hurt themselves, but blow your cover.) The trick with the vents and man-holes is they are often chained down. Out of 15 you may find one that is not. However, if your slim, sometimes you can get the cover off far enough to slip through and down. The other trouble with the man-holes is their weight. For a 120 lb. guy it’s quite the heave to move the sucker, especially since you only get to use your fingers through the little holes. The vents are the same, however they’re raised above ground and a little more obvious. However, these are almost always chained down. But trying never hurts. Right?
Two examples of vents would be on the mall, in front of the clock tower, in the flower garden is a circular vent to the tunnels. While underground you can climb the ladder and peek around. The other is a small vent is along the south side, near the south-west corner of Forbes. North of Herring Hall. It sticks up just behind some nice new plants.
The other above ground access points are a few exterior staircases and doors. These are 100% locked, however, it’s a good place to have a peek into where you’ll be walking. Shine a light through the gate and listen to the sounds. Or notice a big door beneath your feet as your walk to the mall… just imagine being beneath it some day, just peak your interest a bit.
Underground access points are doors. Because every building gets water, every building has a door that leads to the tunnel. These however are usually well locked, damn hard to find, or both. Yet, sometimes you’ll get lucky. I can think of a few doors that may leave you in the wide open space of a building without any trouble.
The Union – The entrance to the tunnel is in a room that is just North of the South Eastern stair. If you take the stairs to the underground on the East side, there should be a door to your right. Inside that door, I believe the room is again to the right, from there it should be a door along the back wall.
The Library – A quick peek out a door from the tunnels revealed a room full of chairs and desks piled high to the ceiling.
The Power Plant – A gated door that looked directly into the South-Campus power plant was unlocked and accessible.
(perhaps UA police & security would like to use this information to double check themselves, please do)

One great way into a tunnel system is via a building in construction. Because they open access to the tunnel and leave the building wide open, i.e. no alarms and the doors unlocked. These buildings make for easy in and easy out points. Just be careful of the everpresent campus security and your step. Construction sites can be very dangerous and touching things or fiddling with equipment could lead to severe repercussions.

Yet, the glory awaits when you walk onto a construction site since you’re essentially doing double duty, tunnel exploration and building spelunking! And therefore any new building going up is candy to this urban-spelunker.
*These details are fictitious. This post in no way condones the violation of federal or state laws, vandalism, trespassing, or misuse of property. Copyright 2009 John Patrick Mizell

2 responses to “UA Tunnels – Getting In”

  1. I live in Tucson, and am interested in exploring these tunnels. I took a few friends to the University last night, looking for an entrance. We used this post as a guide. We had no luck finding the steam tunnels, as most buildings were locked up and the exterior entrances we found were all locked. The only thing we found was the central cooling room for what looked like a good number of buildings. It had tunnel access, but it was locked. I was hoping you could provide further information on finding a way in. Thank you!

  2. I hear, most of the man-hole covers you see around campus are connected to the tunnels (make sure they don’t say sewer). If you’re a big dude, or hang with any football players, get them to lift a manhole cover. I heard a rumor of some folks doing this on the north side of the Union once, just to the west of the circle in the middle of the street. Crazy.