NOVEMBER 24, 2013.
Kartchner Caverns State Park in Arizona features a huge underground show cave with 2.4 miles of passages. The park is located 9 miles south of the town of Benson and west of the north flowing San Pedro River. Long hidden from view, the caverns were discovered in 1974 by local cavers. The caverns are carved out of limestone and and are filled with spectacular speleothems which have been growing for more than 50,000 years! They are still growing. Careful and technical State Park cave development and maintenance are designed to preserve the natural cave system.
The two major features currently available for the public to view and tour are the Throne Room and the Big Room. The Throne Room contains one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites. The Big Room contains the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk. It is closed for several months each summer to accommodate over 1,000 cave bats who use it as a nursery roost to have their babies and care for them. The Park Rangers love it when the bats are present, because it shows them that the cave is healthy and maintaining its biologic purpose.
The Park and its ecology is carefully guarded, lest some unsuspecting tourist disturb Mother Nature at work. All tours are led by a trained guide. There are no self-guided tours. The caves have an average temperature approaching 80 degrees, with 99 percent humidity year round. Most areas are dimly lit and some pass through narrow or enclosed areas. Seeing these caves is an absolute must for anyone visiting this area in Arizona.