CAVE TOURS BY RESERVATION ONLY - Please see our Cave Tours page for other current restrictions.
Fire restrictions are in place - propane is allowed.
Southern Arizona has a wealth of cultural, historical and natural resources. There are many opportunities for half or full day, side trips in the surrounding area. Take a walk back into the Old West and stand in the footprints of the Earp brothers at the OK Corral, relive the mining boomtown days on Brewery Gulch or explore the remnants of old forts or Native American hideouts. Get out and hike on the lush riparian areas of the San Pedro River or add to your “life lists” at nearby wildlife observation locations.
Many of our guests stay at the park campgrounds or cabins, explore the park, then set out for even more exploration at the following nearby attractions. Plan a trip, experience southern Arizona, and collect lifetime memories this year!
Things to do in Southern Arizona
The city of Benson is located ten miles North of the park and is a ten to fifteen-minute drive. Restaurants, lodging, fuel, banks, library (wi-fi available), groceries, laundry, golf course and parks are available. Stop in at the Benson Visitor Center at 249 E. 4th Street, Benson AZ 85602. Phone (520) 586-4293.
The city of Sierra Vista is located 20 miles to the Southeast of the park and is a 45–60 minute drive. Restaurants, lodging, fuel, banks, libraries, groceries, laundry, theaters, shopping centers, golf courses, and parks are available. Check in with the Sierra Vista Convention and Visitors Bureau at 1011 N. Coronado Dr. Sierra Vista, AZ 85635. Phone (520) 417-6960, or toll-free (800) 288-3861.
An active military base established in 1877 as a base for American soldiers fighting the Indian Wars and was home to the Buffalo Soldiers. It is located 20 miles away adjacent to Sierra Vista and requires a 45–60 minute drive. The Fort Huachuca Museum highlights early military history. Visitors will need a driver’s license and vehicle information when you register at the front gate. Call (520) 533-3638.
The “Town too Tough to Die” and location of the OK Corral and Boot Hill Cemetery is located 30 miles from the park and requires a 45–60 minute drive. Shops line the main walkways, gunfight re-enactments, stagecoach rides and other amusements are to be found. The Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park dates back to 1882 as the Cochise County Courthouse. It houses many artifacts from the various eras of Tombstone’s history in the museum and serves as a resource for historical researchers. Contact the Tombstone Chamber of Commerce at P. O. Box 995, 4th and Allen, Tombstone, AZ 85638. Phone (520) 457-9317, or toll-free (888) 457-3929.
The city of Bisbee is located 50 miles Southeast of the park and requires an hour and a half drive. It is a curious mix of the old and the new. The downtown historic district recalls the wild days as a booming mining town, while the newer parts of town carry on as a modern municipality. See the large, open Lavender Pit or take the Copper Queen underground mine tour. Contact the Bisbee Visitor Center at #2 Copper Queen Plaza and Convention Center, Bisbee, AZ 85603. Phone (520) 432-3554, or toll-free (866)-2BISBEE.
is named for the legendary Apache chief who evaded U.S. troops by hiding in the rugged hills and canyons of the Dragoon Mountains. It is located about 45 miles from the park and takes 60–90 minutes to drive to. History, hiking trails, and picnic opportunities await the visitor in this scenic “hideaway.” Phone (520) 364-3468 or (520) 364-6800.
The Amerind Foundation is hidden among the Dells of Texas Canyon in the Dragoon Mountains. It is located 26 miles from the park to the East off of I-10, about a half hour drive. It features a museum of Native American artifacts and artwork and serves as an archaeological research center. Contact them by phone at (520) 586-3666.
This natural area is a long vegetated strip, thirty-seven miles long, down the center of the San Pedro River valley. The San Pedro House serves as a visitor center and trailhead and is managed by the Bureau of Land Management. It is located 30 miles to the Southeast and requires an hour and 15-minute drive. It is an ideal location for hiking and nature viewing, especially as a shady retreat during the warmer months. Phone (520) 439-6400.
Patagonia is a defunct mining town that is now surrounded by opportunities for hiking and wildlife viewing. It is located 40 miles from the park, an hour's drive, and has restaurants and a selection of shops featuring uniquely crafted works of art and antiques. The Nature Conservancy has a riparian area that meanders through the Cottonwood lined Sonoita Creek south of town. 15 miles further south of town, off of Highway 82, is Patagonia Lake State Park and Sonoita Creek State Natural Area. Patagonia Lake has aquatic recreation such as fishing, boating, and swimming as well as picnic and camping facilities. Birding opportunities abound up the creek from the park where it is often possible to glimpse the rare Elegant Trogon. Sonoita Creek has approximately 20 miles of trails, seasonal boat tours, and a Visitors Center. Please visit the park's respective sites for more details and contact information.
The city of Nogales is the main border entry point into Mexico from southeastern Arizona. It is located approximately 60 miles from the park to the south and requires an hour and a half of travel time. The town of Nogales (from the Spanish word for walnut) is actually two towns, one on each side of the border. Shopping and entertainment are the main attractions, especially for those that enjoy the challenge of haggling for a bargain. Due to changing laws regarding documents required for crossing, it is recommended that you call U.S. Customs prior to your trip for up to date information. Call with questions at (520) 287-1410. You may also call (520) 885-0694 for more information. You may also contact the Nogales-SCC Chamber of Commerce Office at 123 W. Kino Park Way, Nogales, AZ 85621. Phone (520) 287-3685.
The Friends of Kartchner Caverns State Park (FKCSP) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization founded in 1999. The Mission is to ensure continued preservation of Kartchner Caverns through advocacy, education and public awareness in partnership with the community and Arizona State Parks. The Vision of FKCSP is to be the model to follow in the active support of cave research, preservation, appreciation, and education in the preservation of a living cave.
Friends of Kartchner Caverns State Park
P.O. Box 26500
Tucson, Arizona 85726-6500
Colossal Cave is “dry” or “dormant” which means that, due to a lack of water, the formations are not growing right now. The cave had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples when it was "discovered" in 1879. Visitors can take a ½ mile tour of the cave. Vail is located south of Tucson, about 40 miles northwest of Kartchner Caverns.
Looking for more fun things to do in Arizona? Your Arizona State Parks are full of opportunity for the whole family!
The above links are provided as a convenience only; they are not a recommendation of any product, service, or organization. Arizona State Parks maintains this list at its own discretion. Links will open in a new window and leave the Arizona State Parks website.