ARIZONA STATE PARKS: For Immediate Release
Managing and conserving Arizona’s natural, cultural and recreational resources for the benefit of the people, both in our Parks and through our Partners. FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Ellen Bilbrey at (602) 542-1996 or (602) 228-8518 or Monica Enriquez at (602) 542-6997. Contact by Email: pio(at)azstateparks.gov
(Phoenix, Arizona - April 14, 2014) - Kartchner Caverns State Park will celebrate Earth Day and the return of the Myotis velifer bat colony to Kartchner Caverns State Park on Saturday, April 19, 2014 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will be filled with family activities, presentations and hands-on activities.
The event will include presentations in the theater by visiting bat experts plus family activities throughout the day. Some of the activities and presentations will include: a family scavenger hike with Ranger Lisa at 10 a.m.; reptiles from the Huachuca Area Herpetological Association; kid's activity table with a recycling game and crafts from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.; Ted Fleming will present "The Columnar cactus-nectar bat connection; and Ronnie Sidner, PhD, will present "Life and Times of the Kartchner Caverns Cave Myotis (the bats!)" by Ronnie Sidner, PhD. Cave tours will also be available but should be reserved in advance and at an extra cost.
During the summer months, the cave's Big Room serves as a nursery for around 1,000 female cave myotis bats (scientific name Myotis velifer). Pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. Arizona State Parks conducted several studies before development to see how the bats could be best protected. The results of the studies led Arizona State Parks to close the Big Room for tours while the bats are using it. The bat populations are monitored each summer to see that they remain stable.
There are three guided tours inside the cave at Kartchner Caverns. The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour is half of a mile in length and takes approximately an hour and a half to complete. The Big Room Tour is available from mid-October to mid-April. It is half of a mile long and takes an hour and 45 minutes to complete. Note: Big Room Tours are not available for children younger than 7 years of age. The new Headlight and Helmet Tour allows visitors to experience the cave as the discoverers did in 1974 using only the light provided by the headlamp on your helmet. This tour is currently offered only on Saturdays, is a half-a-mile long and takes an hour and 15 minutes to complete. Note: Headlight and Helmet Tours are not available for children younger than 10 years of age.
The Discovery Center facility contains exhibits on cave formations, cave life, hydrology and history. In the Tenen-Tufts Theater, a video presentation (15 minutes long) plays twice an hour. The program highlights the discovery aspect of the cave. The Gift Shop offers a wide array of cave related and southwestern themed souvenirs, gifts and practical items to meet the needs of travelers. The Bat Cave Cafe is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for dining while at the Park. There are hiking trails for the beginner to advanced hiker and a large, modern campground adjacent to the Whetstone Mountains.
Reservations for camping or cave tours can be made 24-hours a day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week. Reservations are highly recommended for all cave tours. Cave Tour tickets must be picked up AT LEAST 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour time. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles south of I-10 near Benson, Arizona.
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite or cave tour reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.