Please see our Cave Tours page for information on how to prepare for your visit.
Watch Wildlife at Kartchner Caverns State Park
A variety of Arizona wildlife species common to the Arizonan deserts may be found around the park. Please remember that wildlife should be given a practical amount of respect and distance for their and our own health and safety. It is important that we don’t interfere in their lives as we enter their habitat and do not give them the opportunity to interfere in ours when we introduce exotic food sources or shelter that may attract them.
The close proximity of the canyons and arroyos of the Whetstone Mountains, Sonoran and Chihuahuan Desert terrain and the riparian areas of the San Pedro River creates a unique opportunity to see species found in each of these habitats. One of the most common birds seen in the park is the large, dark raven that may present a nuisance when food is left unattended in the picnic or camping areas. Hummingbirds from around the country converge on Southeastern Arizona during their migratory travels and many may be seen year round in the Hummingbird Garden.
Lizards are commonly seen scurrying among the rocks or up a tree trunk. Slow moving Gila monsters, plodding tortoises, and racing coach whips may be observed in season. Caution should be taken in warm months so as not to disturb the several species of rattlesnakes here. To ensure your safety: keep a respectful distance, remain on trails, avoid overgrown areas, use a light to check the warm roadways after dark, and keep pets restrained. This should prevent any contact with these important but potentially dangerous desert dwellers.
Many colorful butterflies and a number of intricately patterned moths may be observed during blooms in the Hummingbird Garden. Unusual assassin bugs climbing a century plant, large horse lubber grasshoppers lumbering across the ground, and walking sticks blending in with the shrubbery will provide a fascinating entomological experience. Caution should be taken for scorpions. See the display in the Discovery Center about the cave-dwelling insects that live in the dark environs of the cavern.
Mountain lions range throughout the Whetstone Mountains and precautions should be taken when in camp or on the trail. Coyotes or gray foxes represent the canine species of the park. These animals are seldom seen but since these animals are predators, pets should not be left unattended outdoors, especially at night. Skunks, raccoons, coatimundi, and ringtail cats may present a night time nuisance if food is left unsecured in the camp areas. Jackrabbits, cottontails, squirrels, javelina and coues whitetail deer may be seen wandering through the park or while using the trails. Of course, bats are also an important element of the cave and park habitat. Common cave bats (Myotis velifer) exit the cave each night during summer months to feed while the maternity colony occupies the Big Room from mid April to mid October. Pallid bats often occupy overhangs on buildings and bridges, Mexican free tail bats chase flying insects and long nosed bats come to feed from the local agave species at night.
Please advise park staff of any unusual sightings or unusual behavior by wild animals. Please do not feed wild animals or birds in the park. Avoid leaving food unsecured or unattended outside and place all trash in the appropriate receptacles. This will prevent attracting unwanted animals and insects to your area and leave the animals in their natural state.
Looking for even more Arizona wildlife info? Sign up for our newsletter to have viewing tips, animal profiles, and wildlife themed events delivered right to your inbox!