Kartchner Caverns State Park is one of Arizona’s best kept secrets and a real treat for cave explorers. Watch a video then below are three reasons you have to check out this unique Arizona attraction!
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Kartchner Caverns State Park:
Top 3 Reasons to Visit
1 | The World’s Longest Stalactite
Do you know the difference between stalactites and stalagmites? Stalactites hold “tight” to the ceiling while stalagmites grow upward with all of their “might.”
Don’t worry if you don’t get it right just yet; the point is that Kartchner Caverns State Park boasts one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactite formations, right here in Arizona. This massive, naturally-formed column, measuring 21 feet and 3 inches, is located in the Caverns’ Throne Room.
2 | BIG Rooms
The caves at Kartchner Caverns State Park wind and twist underground in all kinds of ways like a subterranean labyrinth. But the park is most famous for the two big rooms that are as big as football fields. Yes, that’s right; we call them “rooms.”
They’re the Throne Room and the simply but aptly named Big Room. Both are filled with a wide variety of interesting rock formations like nothing you’ve ever seen on earth. However, be warned that the Big Room is off-limits to visitors during the summer months because it’s the mating season of its bat inhabitants.
3 | It’s Alive!
Kartchner Caverns State Park is a living cave system. What this means is that water continues to trickle through the cave system and create new calcium deposits (although it’s slow – you won’t exactly see it happening).
These caves were only recently discovered and as a result, they’re pristine. You can see wild, multi-colored mineral deposits that have been slowly forming over the last 50,000 years and continue to do so. This is why it’s referred to as a “living” system.
Kartchner Caverns State Park – Arizona’s Newest Cave Attraction
Kartchner Caverns was long hidden from view. First discovered in 1974, it was kept a secret until 1988 when it became protected, and only opened to the public in 1999. This makes it Arizona’s newest cave system and the park does all it can to keep it untouched by humankind. It’s well-protected with delicate lighting and a series of locked doors to keep the dry Arizona desert heat out. Once you step through these doors, you’ll feel like you’re in Florida with its 68-degree temperature year round and 99 percent humidity.
There is a variety of easy walking tours through the caves. The tour guides are knowledgeable and passionate about protecting the cavern system. There are no steps to climb and the paths are completely wheelchair accessible, which is a rarity in cave tours.
Outside of the bowels of the earth, you’ll find the popular Discovery Center where you can learn more about Arizona geology and rock formations. There is also hiking and camping nearby where you can enjoy the splendors of the unique American Southwest. The campground is popular, so book it early.