"Toys for Tots" Toy Drive
Thru December 4, 2016
Help us give a child the gift of hope by dropping off a new and unused toy at Kartchner Caverns State Park. Founded by the US Marine Corp Reserve, the mission of Toys for tots is to help children experience the joy of the holidays and unite the community in a common cause. To learn more, visit toysfortots.org. 'Tis the season for giving!
Benson Area Food Bank Canned Food Drive
Thru December 18, 2016
Help support the local community by bringing in a canned food item for the Benson Area Food Bank. To learn more about how hunger affects us all, visit The Benson Area Food Bank. Thank you for your generosity!
Reserve online (24-hours) or call (520) 586-2283. You can call 7 days a week, from 8am. to 5pm. MST. Please review the Cave Tour Info before placing your reservation. School/group tours should review additional information. To make same day Cave Tour reservations (based on availability) please call (520) 586-2283. Please arrive AT LEAST 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour time. Late arrival may result in the forfeiture of your reserved tour time.
Summer & Fall Hours (June 4– Dec. 18): Gate Hours 6am. - 10pm. Discovery Center hours 9am. - 5pm.
Winter & Spring Hours (Dec. 19 – June 4): Gate Hours 6am. - 10pm. Discovery Center Hours 8am. – 6pm. The Discovery Center is closed half-day on Thanksgiving & December 24, and all day on December 25. The campgrounds are open year-round.
Introductory Park Video
About the Park
Each October 15, the Big Room re-opens for tours. Book now and experience nearly 1 hour underground. Children age 6 and under are not allowed on this tour. The Kartchner Cavern story is about amazing discoveries past, present and future. Marvel at the many strange and colorful formations. Learn about the cave fauna, both living and ancient. Read Cave Tour Information.
Experience a stunning limestone cave in Southeastern Arizona that boasts world-class features. This “live” cave, discovered in 1974, is host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations. Water percolates from the surface and calcite formations continue to grow, including stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground. Tour guides will unveil this fascinating underground landscape during a memorable 1½ hour tour.
The Discovery Center features museums exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden.
It wasn't until February 1978 that Tenen and Tufts told the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner, about their amazing discovery. During the four years of secret exploration, the discoverers realized that the cave's extraordinary variety of colors and formations must be preserved.
The cave's existence became public knowledge in 1988 when its purchase was approved as an Arizona State Park. Extraordinary precautions have been taken during its development to conserve the cave's near-pristine condition.
“Excellent — Kids Enjoyed It.”
“This is a very beautiful cave. No tight places because the cave is huge. Beautiful and awesome. I want to see it again!” ~ Sondra H., June 2016
“Excellent cave tour, desert gardens, gift shop”
“Very, very well done cave tours present the beauty and wonder of these natural caves. The docent told us the history of the caves' discovery and what special care they have taken to preserve the natural wonders and ecology of the cave.” ~ tlb91, September 2015
This bell canopy is one of many fascinating features on the Rotunda-Throne Room tour at Kartchner Caverns State Park. It is formed by water flowing over a bump on the wall, then dripping to create this beautiful formation.
In November 1974 two young cavers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, were exploring the limestone hills at the base of the Whetstone Mountains. In the bottom of a sinkhole they found a narrow crack leading into the hillside. Warm, moist air flowed out, signaling the existence of a cave. After several hours of crawling, they entered a pristine cavern.
The formations that decorate caves are called “speleothems.” Usually formations are composed of layers of calcite called travertine deposited by water. The form a speleothem takes is determined by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.
Kartchner Caverns is home to:
- One of the world's longest soda straw stalactites: 21 feet 3 inches (Throne Room)
- The tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall (Throne Room)
- The world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk (Big Room)
- The first reported occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room)
- The first cave occurrence of “birdsnest” needle quartz formations
- Many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites, and rimstone dams.
Please Remember: Many of the formations you will see have been continuously growing for tens of thousands of years. The formations grow very slowly and are extremely fragile. When visiting remember that formations damaged even by accident will stop growing. To avoid damage to the cave and injury to yourself please refrain from touching any of the formations.
Keep up with all the great Star Party events Here.
Download Star Party & Astronomy Events brochure ( 5.7 MB PDF) Download and share our new brochure with event dates! Includes live links to Partner Group websites and park home pages.
Read Story About Kartchner Caverns
Read a story by Mark Duggan and see exclusive photos by visiting Arizona Public Media website.
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