The Longdogs

The Longdogs
Willy, Harley (back center), and Gretchen

Kartchner Caverns State Park

This is going to be kind of a short post....not because we didn't have a great time at Kartchner Caverns State Park but because we were not allowed to bring cameras, etc., with us when we toured the cavern so the camera stayed in the car and I didn't get any pictures anywhere in the park. I borrowed a few from the site but they aren't the greatest.
The Caverns are located 9 miles south of Benson on Hwy 90. In addition to the Caverns, there is a campground with 62 campsites (water and electric). There are several tours to choose from like the Saturday Helmet and Headlamp Tour, Big Room Tour, and the Rotunda/Throne Tour. We chose the Big Room Tour. It is 1/2 miles in length and takes 1 3/4 hours. This is considered a wet cave and every precaution is taken to ensure the growth of the cave is not affected by visitors. There are several sealed entrances to go through before you get into the cave that helps to keep humidity at the proper level. You take a tram from the Visitors Center up to the entrance to the cave.
Each tour is led by a ranger who does a great job of telling you about the history of the cave as well as the formations. Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered the cave in 1974 while they were out exploring the limestone hills. They didn't tell anyone about it until 1978 when they told the Kartchners who were the land owners. They initially thought about developing the cave themselves but members of the Kartchner family thought about the Arizona State Parks. There were numerous meetings with government personnel under conditions of secrecy and the land was leased in early 1988 and the purchase was finally completed in late 1988.

Work was begun to open the cave to the public and the grand opening ribbon cutting ceremony was held in Nov 1999. The lower caverns opened to the public four years later. We enjoyed seeing all the beautiful formations.

After we toured the cave, we drove around the campground. It was very nice and decently spaced sites and some trees.
Keep in mind that children under 7 are not allowed in the Big Room and that you can make your reservations online. We were able to get on the next tour without reservations but I would expect things to be much busier during the summer.

There are also numerous hiking trails available in the park.

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