We are camped for three days in Kartchner Caverns State Park. It is a pretty park with 62 electric and water hookup sites interspersed in mesquite trees. They have a couple nice hiking trails to give you something to do besides the cave tours.
We did the Foothills Loop Trail that circles the hill holding Kartchner Cave. It was a nice trail that also had a spur for a nice view of a big valley and distant mountain ranges. It was a little over three miles with a little strenuous climbing we were bushed at the end.
After a short rest we took a drive to Sierra Vista. Wendy was so happy to finally see stores other than Walmart. She first directed me to the Goodwill Store then a Hobby Lobby, thankfully she didn't go to crazy.On to the caves. The story of Kartchner Caves is a neat one. Discovered in 1974 by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts a couple cave explorers from Tucson. They realized they had found something special and kept it a secret for 14 years. The cave had had no human presence before the discovery. A small vent hole had to be enlarged for entering.
At first thought it was BLM land they found it private and belonged to the Kartchner family. They wanted to find someone who would take the caves, protect them and also allow public viewing. The state of Arizona was the only one with interest.
The work done to allow the public viewing and to protect the cave is amazing. They also have made it handicap accessible.
Protecting the cave was top priority as the cave is still a living breathing cave. It is also home to 1000 small bats during the summer season. Steps taken are numerous thickly sealed doors, you also go through a misting area to dampen you and your clothing. They have the walkway slanted to allow nightly hosing and removal of said water. The lighting system is also set up to come on and go off when groups are pass through.
To protect the bats they close off one of the tours during the bat occupied months.
Sadly one other protection in place is no cameras or video of any kind. We later learned it was more for safety than anything.
They offer two cave tours, one is the Rotunda/Throne Rooms and the second is the Big Room.
They have thousands of cave features including cave bacon, soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, and one they called fried eggs. They also feature flow stone and one of the largest columns almost five stories high named Kublai Khan.
|Pictures copied from web|
Overall really neat tours that we were glad we took in.
|Gila monster Ray saw at Roper Lake|