Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson AZ
2980 Arizona 90
Benson, AZ 85602
Reservations can be made for a particular site.
CHECK IN/OUT: Check in at 4 pm/Check out at 3 pm.
ACCESS: 6 am - 10 pm.
MAPS: At Entry Gate
PULL THRUS: Yes 12
PICNIC SHELTERS: Yes
SITE SURFACE: Paved
HOOK-UPS: Water & 30/20 Amp
DUMP STATION: Yes
SHADE TREES: Yes
BOAT RAMP: No
FEATURES: Cabins. Caves and trails
PET FRIENDLY: Yes
According to the Arizona State Park website in November 1974, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts were exploring the limestone hills at the eastern base of the Whetstone Mountains. They were looking "for a cave no one had ever found" and found it. The location was kept secret for fourteen years. They gained the cooperation of the Kartchner family and worked with them for ten years and in 1985 they approached the Arizona State Parks. The Nature Conservancy acquired an option to purchase the land. Finally in 1988 the discovery of the cave was made public when the landowners sold the area to the state for development as a park and show cavern. The state spent $28 million on a high-tech system of air-lock doors, misting machines and other equipment designed to preserve the cave and the grand opening was in 1999.
The two major features of the caverns available to the public are the Throne Room and the Big Room. The Big Room cave tours are closed during the summer for several months each year because it is a nursery roost for cave bats. 60% of the cave system is not regularly explored.
The park also has two trails for hiking. The Guindana Trail is the longest at 4.3 miles and ascends 1,000 ft. The shorter trail is the Foothills Loop Trail and is 2.5 miles.
We visited the park in March, 2018 and was not able to get a site but they allowed us to overnite in their parking area for $15.00. We hiked a short way on the Foothills Loop Trail and would like to return one day to explore the park further.
Kartchner Caverns State Park is located about 50 miles south of Tucson between Benson and Sierra Vista Arizona. (12 miles south of Benson)
Travel I-10 East and take Exit 302 and proceed 9 miles south on Hwy AZ 90.