Reserve online (24-hours) or call (520) 586-2283. You can call 7 days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm 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 1 – Dec. 18): Gate Hours 6 am - 10 pm. Discovery Center hours 9 am - 5 pm.
Winter & Spring Hours (Dec. 19 – May 31): Gate Hours 6 am - 10 pm. Discovery Center Hours 8 am – 6 pm. The Discovery Center is closed half-day on Thanksgiving & December 24, and all day on December 25. The campgrounds are open year-round.
Sunday, November 15: Ranger Led Hike
9:30 am. Meet at the Discovery Center to join us for a unique and family friendly Ranger led hike. Wear suitable clothing and shoes for hiking, bring water and hat/sun protection. The Foothills Loop Trail is 2.5 miles long and moderately difficult with some rough terrain. A camera/binoculars are suggested but not required. No reservations necessary. Dogs are welcome on a 6-foot or shorter leash. Call 520-586-2283 or speak to the Ranger at the front desk for more information. Camping is available in the park campground the night before! Make reservations online.
Kartchner Caverns Mural Dedication
Thank You to Doug & Sharon Quarles for the dedication of their beautiful Kartchner Caverns Mural on Sept. 26 at the Quarles Art Gallery. The public enjoyed great music, colorful local color and support from Benson's local radio station Cave 97.7. Read about Doug's work in a Benson News Sun Store. After your cave tour, head into Benson to 4th & Huachuca St. to grab a selfie and see the beautiful work at the Quarles Art Gallery. Visit them online at artgalleryinbensonaz.com.
Introductory Park Video
About the Park
Starting 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.
“Fascinating experience. Walking through a living cave and seeing all the beauty that nature offers. If you in that area of Arizona it it a must. Make reservations early”. —Sue T., July 21, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
“Amazing Caverns — Must See!”
“This is by far one of the best physical caverns I've seen, and absolutely one of the best tours ever!” —HumerousUserName, July 21, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
“Excellent — Kids Enjoyed It.”
“My three boys (ages 5, 7, 8) enjoyed this cave tour very much, as did my husband and I. My kids are mellow, so walking in the cave for 45+ minutes was an easy undertaking. If your kids are rambunctious, you may want to wait until they are older.” —SDFive, July 14, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
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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