Visitors explore Kartchner Caverns State Park
Visit This Southwestern State Park To Discover Breathtaking Caves
Arizona hosts some rather unexpected landforms, and beneath the cactus-adorned terrain, Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson features breathtaking underground formations.
Formed over 330 million years in the Whetstone Mountains foothills, most people learned about this incredible underground world when it became a state park in 1988.
The caves were discovered by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts in 1974 as they were recreationally exploring limestone hills on property owned by James and Lois Kartchner.
The Kartchner family pursued state park status, which they achieved a decade later. Today, more than 150,000 visitors enjoy Kartchner Caverns State Park annually.
In the caves, the Throne Room has views of a unique formation known as a bell canopy. This is the stunning result of water flowing over wall bumps over thousands of years.
The Big Room has rare turnip shields and brushite moon milk formations. Guided tours can show rimstone dams, totems, stalactites, helictites, and a 58-foot Kubla Khan column.
Headlamp tours are also available for an authentic feel of how it would have been to discover the caves initially. A photo tour is hosted on the third Saturday of the month.
A naturalist leads the park's half-mile night walks to help spot up to 13 bat species. This park is also a designated International Dark Sky Park that's excellent for stargazing.