School & Group Tour Information
Kartchner Caverns is a great place to bring a group for a memorable tour and educational experience.
Kartchner Caverns is a stunning limestone cave in Southeastern Arizona and boasts many world-class features that have been protected since the cave was discovered in 1974. The cavern has been surveyed at 2.4 miles long. Kartchner is a wet, “live” cave. Water percolates from the surface and calcite features continue to grow in the darkness. The park offers two cave tours where you'll see dynamic structures such as stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground, sometimes meeting to form a massive column. The caverns are host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations.
The park includes a Discovery Center which houses world-class exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, shaded picnic areas, a vending area, and an amphitheater.
Allow at least three hours for the entire park experience, which includes a cave tour, a walk through the visitor center exhibits, gift shop, and enjoyment of the outdoor scenery.
When taking a cave tour, one adult must accompany every seven children on the tour for school groups. All tours are guided by a trained tour guide. Reservations are strongly recommended and can be made by calling: (520) 586-CAVE. The cave averages 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius) and 99% humidity year round. All cave trails are barrier-free. Due to wet surfaces and changes in grades, strollers and walkers are not allowed on the tours. Children age 6 and under are not allowed on the Big Room Tour.
Arizona State Parks has developed an entire school curriculum on CD for teachers Kindergarten through Sixth grade. If you would like to receive a complimentary copy of the Kartchner Caverns State Park curriculum (available in CD ROM format) for your school or organization, please contact the Interpretive Education Coordinator at the park. By phone: (602) 206 3346 or (520) 586-4105. By mail: Interpretive Education Coordinator, Kartchner Caverns SP, P.O. Box 1849, Benson, AZ 85602. By email: eenriquez(at)azstateparks.gov
School Group Guidelines
Download a Copy of School Group Guidelines ( 63 KB PDF)
Parks have rules and regulations for the safety of students as well as other visitors. These rules are for all School Groups, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts,, Kids Clubs, and Oraganizations.
Kartchner Caverns is a world-class show cave. Preservation of this outstanding resource is top priority. Your school will be interacting with other visitors from all over the world and will leave a lasting impression with them. Your careful attention to the guidelines listed below will ensure a memorable and educational experience for all.
Please review the following information with the Teachers/Chaperones and students prior to your scheduled tour.
- Chaperones are required at a ratio of 1 Chaperone for each 7 students. (Each Chaperone should be assigned a group of students prior to going on the tour.)
- Teachers/Chaperones are responsible for the behavior of each student at all times during their visit.
- Teachers and Chaperones must stay with their assigned students at all times while on the park grounds, in the exhibit areas, in the theater, in the gift shop, in the Café, on the tram, and in the caverns.
THE DISCOVERY CENTER
The Discovery Center is an institute of learning. We need your help by using INSIDE VOICES OR LIBRARY VOICES while inside the Discovery Center…at times the noise level (due to the acoustics) can become disruptive to the other guests and to the operation of the Discovery Center.
There is a 15 minute VIDEO PRESENTATION that can be watched either before or after the cave tour. MUSEUM/EXHIBIT AREAS All the exhibits are to be used as a learning experience, they are not toys. (Please treat the controls gently) they have sensitive connections and cannot be slammed or rapidly turned on and off. Do not climb on top of the rock walls or other exhibits in the Discovery Center. Running is not permitted inside the Discovery Center or any of the surrounding areas.
THE GIFT SHOP/BAT CAVE CAFE
- Only 10 students with 2 attentive adults in the Gift Shop at a time. PLEASE, NO BACKPACKS!
- Only 5 students with 1 adult please inside the Bat Cave Café. Group eating is at the upper Ramada.
- Purchases at the gift shop should be made after the cave tour.
- We would ask once purchases are completed to please leave the Gift Shop area so others can shop.
While riding the motorized Tram to and from the cave, please follow the instructions of your Tour Guide and Tram drivers. The tram ride lasts only about 2 ½ minutes and is quite fun. For safety, stay seated at all times. Keep hands, arms, legs, feet, inside at all times. No horseplay or running when entering or exiting the tram. A Teacher or Chaperone needs to ride in the back seat of each tram car.
- Children 16 years or younger must be accompanied by an adult. Take plenty of water while on your hike.
- All plants, animals, flowers, rocks & natural features are protected. Do not damage, destroy or remove from the park.
- Stay on the designated trails at all times. (The bridge, tram roads, and campgrounds are off limits.) Climbing or hiking on top or near the entrance of the caverns is strictly prohibited.
Teachers, Chaperones, and students need to follow the cave rules at all times. Any unruly behavior, horseplay, or touching of formations or rocks will result in corrective action, including exiting the caverns.
- A chaperone will have to exit with their assigned students if they have to leave the cave ahead of schedule.
- Touching or damaging formations is strictly prohibited and punishable by law.
- Please use INSIDE VOICES OR LIBRARY VOICES while in the caverns. Be respectful around other tours.
- All backpacks, bulky articles, purses, cameras of any kind, flashlights, binoculars, water bottles, and any other loose items are to be left on the bus. Purchases at the Gift Shop should be made after the cave tour.
- Jackets are not encouraged for the cave tours. It is exceptionally warm year round inside the caverns. Expect a 99 % humidity and 72 degree temperature range inside the caverns. It is hot! Your tour guide will show you the proper method of how to carry jackets during colder times of the year.
RESTROOMS are located at the entrance to the Discovery Center and on the patio behind the Discovery Center.
Reservations are strongly recommended to guarantee a tour. Reservations can be made by calling the reservation number at (520) 586-CAVE (2283). School group planners have the opportunity to make arrangements with a specialized phone reservation attendant. A group cannot make more than 6 tour reservations per phone call and can have no more than 12 tours per day (in Rotunda/Throne Room tour) or 4 tours per day (in Big Room tour). Reservations are taken from 8 am to 5 pm, (MST), (Reservation office is closed Christmas Day).
Reservations can be made up to a year in advance. There are no pre-scheduled tours on Saturday or Sunday.
When taking a cave tour, one adult must accompany every seven children on the tour for school groups. Children age 6 and under are not allowed on the Big Room Tour.
A tour confirmation letter will be mailed and tickets can be picked up at the park's "will call counter" one hour prior to the tour time. It is recommended that visitors arrive approximately one hour prior to tour time. If a group fails to show, reservations may be canceled 15 minutes prior to tour time.
Group tours can load and unload in front of the Discovery Center. The driver is welcome to visit the Discovery Center and any other above ground park facilities, including the restrooms, food concessions, and picnic areas. The park has adequate restroom facilities to accommodate a tour group.
Payment and Rescheduling Policies
Payment is due either in full when the reservation is made using a credit card (Visa or MasterCard) or with a company purchase order. The purchase order number is required at the time the reservation is made. A copy of the purchase order must then be sent within 24 hours of the time the reservation is secured. There will be no billing or invoice for any tours. Payment must be received one month prior to the tour date or the park will cancel the reservation (cashiers check or school direct check must be made payable to Kartchner Caverns State Park).
Reservations are non-refundable. The entire block of tickets may be rescheduled within one year of the of the original tour date, subject to availability. Changes must be made 72 hours prior to the scheduled tour. Group tickets may not be divided and rescheduled for separate times or dates. To reschedule a tour, please call (520) 586-CAVE (2283). If a group fails to show or reschedule a tour 72 hours prior to the original tour date, the group will not be allowed to reschedule and payment will not be refunded.
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