Sunday, February 15, 2015

Kartchner Caverns

We spent a week at Kartchner Caverns State Park just south of Benson, Arizona. This was the first time we had ventured south of Interstate 10 in the the South East corner of the state.  We were surprised at what was in store.

Two different cavern tours are available.  The Rotunda/Throne Room tour is available year round.  The Big Room tour is offered on October 15th through April 15th to protect a maternity colony of bats which return each summer.  If at all possible, try to take both tours as they are quite different.

Cameras, cell phones, etc are not allowed on the tour.   I'm sharing a couple of YouTube videos for those who would like a virtual tour.

© 2012 Arizona Highways

© 2009 Arizona State Parks

In addition to the caverns, the park boasts hiking trails and a very nice campground.

View at sunset down to the San Pedro River Valley from the campground.  The velvet mesquite are not yet leafing out.  Other plants in the campground include barrel cacti, prickly pear, aloe, and yucca.

The below pictures were all made from the Foothill Loop trail

This is the side of the hill where the cave is located.  You would never guess the wonderland inside.

Look hard and you can make out one of two white-tail does we met on the trail.  Huxley and I watched her for quite a while, and she held her gaze on us as well.

A pool of water in the wash which the trail runs along.  This is where the does were heading when we interrupted them.   Other animals we did not see but are reported to be prevalent are coyotes, cougars, bears, and javelinas.

A view back toward the campground and the valley below.