When the temps rise and outside feels hot, dry, and crispy, there’s a place in Arizona you can go where the temperature stays a cool 72 degrees and 99 percent humidity year-round. It’s not a fairytale! We’re talking about Kartchner Caverns State Park in Benson, Arizona.
There may not be piles of gold, a magic carpet, or a genie inside, but your family will undoubtedly see this destination as a cave of wonders! Formations inside the cave are actively growing as they have been for tens of thousands of years, thanks to the moisture and minerals inside the caverns.
Book a tour and arrive at least 30 minutes ahead of time to explore the outdoor hummingbird garden or indoor Discovery Center. Learn about echo-location with an interactive giant bat-ear display, let the kids crawl through a replica cave tunnel, and see an example of a prehistoric ground sloth.
When it’s time for your tour, join a park ranger on the tram ride to the entrance of the cave. You’ll hear about how the cave is protected, then hear the “ka-chunk” of the large metal doors instantly setting the tone: you’ve just stepped foot into a very special place.
Paved and softly lit pathways wind through the cavern, allowing you to marvel at stalactites, columns, soda straws, bacon draperies, and other formations as the park ranger teaches you about the cave’s discovery, geology, and ecosystem. The low lighting prevents damage to the cave’s formations.
Things to know before you take your tour.
Make tour reservations in advance at azstateparks.com/kartchner or over the phone at 877-MY-PARKS. Tours are $23 for ages 14+, $13 for youth 7-13, and $5 for children under 7 years of age (age restrictions apply for some tours).Personal items including cell phones, cameras, toys, water bottles, strollers, and backpacks are not permitted inside the caverns to protect its pristine condition. Junior Ranger activity booklets are available in the Discovery Center so your child can receive their badge and be “sworn in” as a protector of the park.You can book a campsite or reserve a rustic camping cabin and make a trip of it.The Discovery Center, tram ride, and cave tour pathways are all wheelchair accessible. A photo booth and gift shop in the Discovery Center lets you take a token of your visit home, but regardless, the unique experience will be remembered by your family forever.