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* Park Overview *

    New State Park - Opens Nov. 12, 1999.

    Kartchner Caverns is located in Cochise County just off SR-90 about one-third of the way between Benson and Sierra Vista. The primary feature is 2-1/2 mile long living cave located just underneath the Chihuahuan Desert.

    Kartchner Caverns Arizona

    In 1974, two experienced cavers, Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen spotted a small slot in the side of a hill which led to a subterranean wonderland, previously untouched and unknown to man. Immediately recognizing the importance of their discovery and hoping to protect its fragile environment, they kept secret their discovery for several years not even telling the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner.

    For the next 14 years, in a shroud of secrecy and with help of the Nature Conservancy, the Kartchner property and other surrounding lands were quietly purchased and held until the Arizona Legislature could appropriate funds to establish a state park.

    1988 was the year that the discovery of Kartchner Caverns was publicly announced along with its state park designation. The Arizona State Park system went right to work to develop this land into the crown jewel of their park system. Taking over ten years to plan and develop a 23,000 sq.ft. visitors center and access to the caverns and investing over $28.5 million.

    Finally, Nov 12, 1999 will see this natural wonder opened to the world. Prepare to be stunned by an exciting display of stalactites and stalagmites in a bright rainbow of colors. The main trail is 1.2 miles long and takes visitors past two main galleries each the size of a football field with a vaulted ceiling over 100 feet high.

    Park officials are deeply committed to protecting the fragile caverns - there is absolutely no touching of cave formations. Violaters will be severly fined and prosecuted.

    Key points of interest and facilities:

    • Discovery Center - Large facility with exhibits on cave exploration, cave inhabitants, and the biology of cavelife.

    • Electric Tram - This tram takes visitors to a large airlock which is the main cavern entrance.

    • Throne Room - named for the great sparkling formations reminscent of a crystal cathedral.

    • Rotunda - Large gallery with the Kubla Kahn formation - a giant columnar-shaped formation developed over millions of years as a stalagmite and stalactite met and grew together.

    • Soda Straws - pencil-thin hanging formations that are upto 21 feet long.

    • RV Resort - 63-space, full service campground.

    Kartchner Caverns State Park - 520-586-2283
    Because of major initial publicity, advance reservations will be required to go on the cave tours.

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