To make Cave Tour Reservations and Book Tickets: 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.
Park Wins Certificate of Excellence
Kartchner Caverns SP has been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence, signifying that it has consistently earned outstanding feedback from TripAdvisor travelers.
Winter Hours (November 1 – May 31)
Gate Hours 7 am – 10 pm, Park Hours 8 am – 6 pm, Discovery Center Hours 8 am – 6 pm Tours depart between 9am and 4pm based on availability and staffing and we highly recommend prior reservations.
- 2 pm solar telescopes.
- 5:30 pm. Guest Lecture in the Discovery Center Auditorium. The talk will cover Rovers studying the geology of Mars to map out the history of water on the Red Planet. Also, Mr Forte will discuss NASA's Dawn Mission which is poised to become the first spacecraft in history to orbit two different objects beyond Earth. In addition, he will give an update on the New Horizons probe as it speeds toward a July flyby of mysterious Pluto. There will be an update on the Cassini orbiter with its continuing studies the ringed planet Saturn and its many enigmatic moons. The guest speaker will be NASA Solar System Ambassador, Ted Forte, and he will report on current NASA missions and discuss some of our future plans to visit neighboring worlds. Ted is an amateur astronomer, astronomy writer, and officer of the Huachuca Astronomy Club . He serves on the board of directors of the University South Foundation Inc. which owns the Patterson Observatory in Sierra Vista, AZ. Ted coordinates volunteer operations for public outreach at the observatory. As a contributing editor for Sky & Telescope magazine, he writes feature articles about deep sky observing. His particular area of interest is the study of planetary nebulae; he coordinates the Planetary Nebula Observing Program for the Astronomical League and authored their "Planetary Nebula Observing Guide". He also pens a monthly column, "The Backyard Astronomer," for the Sierra Vista Herald. Ted has been a NASA/JPL volunteer since 2013.
- About 6:30 pm. Weather permitting, after the lecture, telescopes viewing by the Huachuca Astronomy Club of Southeastern Arizona. Don't miss the close-up views of the great planet Jupiter, the star formation region of the Great Orion Nebula, and many other wonders of the night sky. Bring your jackets.
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.
Now Showing: The First Day Journey
Take a 20-minute journey from the Sinkhole to the Big Room, following the path of cave discoverers Gary Tenen & Randy Tufts! WARNING: Due to point-of-view, helmet-mounted camera footage, film is not recommended for visitors susceptible to motion sickness.
Family Campout Program
April 11 & 12, 2015 – (Session A)
April 25 & 26 – (Session B)
The Spring & Summer 2015 Family Campout Program is designed for families that have little or no experience camping. We will introduce you to the great experiences you can share with your family outdoors! You will learn how to set up a tent and an introduction to cooking outside, plus you will get to try some fun activities you can do while camping! Take a one weekend introductory adventure at one of 8 Arizona State Parks. Learn more about the program and see a list of other participating parks. Registration will open in January 2015
Read Story About Kartchner Caverns
Read a story by Mark Duggan and see exclusive photos by visiting Arizona Public Media website.
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.
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge