Kartchner Caverns State Park - Park is Open
To make Cave Tour Reservations and Book Tickets: Reserve online (24-hours) or call (520) 586-2283. You can call 7 days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm MST. Please review the Cave Tour Info before placing your reservation. School/group tours should review additional information. To make same day Cave Tour reservations (based on availability) please call (520) 586-2283. Please arrive AT LEAST 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour time. Late arrival may result in the forfeiture of your reserved tour time.
Park Wins Certificate of Excellence
Kartchner Caverns SP has been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence, signifying that it has consistently earned outstanding feedback from TripAdvisor travelers.
Summer Hours (June 1 – Oct. 31)
Gate Hours 7 am – 10 pm, Park Hours 8 am – 5 pm, Discovery Center Hours 9 am – 5 pm.
Daily Video Screening: The First Day Journey
3 pm in the Tenen & Tufts Theater. Daily. Take a 20-minute journey from the Sinkhole to the Big Room, following the path of cave discoverers Gary Tenen & Randy Tufts! WARNING: Due to point-of-view, helmet-mounted camera footage, film is not recommended for visitors susceptible to motion sickness.
Come spend an evening with your family and friends at the park, and observe the wonders of the night sky through astronomers’ telescopes!
2- 5 pm: Afternoon Solar Viewing: safely view the sun through a special telescope.
5:30 pm: Guest speaker Dr. Connie Walker, Associate Scientist, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). Connie specializes in education and public outreach for NOAO, a national center for ground-based nighttime astronomy in the United States which is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
6:30 pm: After the speaker see planets, stars, comets, galaxies, and more through Astronomers telescopes! Bring a folding chair, red light, sweater or jacket, enthusiasm to enjoy and conserve our beautiful night skies! Entrance Fees is $6 per vehicle (up to four adults) for the night of viewing, instruction and family fun. Camping is available at the park (additional fee). Reserve campsites online. Or Learn about Star Parties, watch video, and see other park event dates. Event supported by Huachuca Astronomy Club & Astronomers of Verde Valley.
Come experience the Kartchner Caverns inaugural 5K Trail Run. Come out to run; stay to learn about the bats, the guano, and preservation of the cave. Post-race festival complete with awards ceremony and family fun activities. This unique course will take you through the rugged desert terrain of the Sonoran/Chihuahuan Deserts. The run will include multiple sets of stairs and allows you to run along areas that are normally closed to the public. You will experience majestic views of the entire San Pedro River Valley and the beautiful mountain ranges that surround the park. Park entrance included. Free T-shirt if pre-registered by midnight August 31. The entire course is aboveground. This event is sponsored and operated by the Friends of Kartchner Caverns SP
6:30 - 7:45 am: Registration & Bib pickup
8 am: 5K Trail Run starts (ages 14 and up)
9:30 am: 1 Mile Kids Fun Run starts (ages 13 and below)
10 am: Award Ceremony for both races
Event Volunteers: We also need volunteers to make this event a success! If you are interested in helping out, please send an email to reservations(at)azstateparks.gov or call (520) 586-4118 (this phone number is for event volunteer registration only).
Online Cave Tour Tickets (24-hours), please review the Cave Tour Info before placing your reservation. Online Camping Reservations (24-hours) or call (520) 586-2283 for either camping or ticket reservations. You can call 7 days a week, from 8 am to 5 pm MST.
October 4 & 5 or October 25 & 26: Family Campout Program
The Fall & Winter 2014 Family Campout Program is designed for families that have little or no experience camping. We will introduce you to the great experiences you can share with your family outdoors! You will learn how to set up a tent and an introduction to cooking outside, plus you will get to try some fun activities you can do while camping! Take a one weekend introductory adventure at one of 8 Arizona State Parks. Learn more about the program, see a list of other participating parks and dates, and start the registration process.
October 11: Ranger Led Hike
October 25: 3rd Annual Halloween Party
Party is from 5 - 7 pm. Enjoy face painting, children’s games, coloring contest, candy & prizes, plus a costume contest. FREE park admission with costume! For more information call the park at (520) 586-2283. Download Event Flier ( 2.7 MB PDF)
Read Story About Kartchner Caverns
Read a story by Mark Duggan and see exclusive photos by visiting Arizona Public Media website.
Introductory Park Video
About the Park
Starting October 15, the Big Room re-opens for tours. Book now and experience nearly 1 hour underground. Children age 6 and under are not allowed on this tour. The Kartchner Cavern story is about amazing discoveries past, present and future. Marvel at the many strange and colorful formations. Learn about the cave fauna, both living and ancient. Read Cave Tour Information.
Experience a stunning limestone cave in Southeastern Arizona that boasts world-class features. This “live” cave, discovered in 1974, is host to a wide variety of unique minerals and formations. Water percolates from the surface and calcite formations continue to grow, including stalactites dripping down like icicles and giant stalagmites reaching up from the ground. Tour guides will unveil this fascinating underground landscape during a memorable 1½ hour tour.
The Discovery Center features museums exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden.
It wasn't until February 1978 that Tenen and Tufts told the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner, about their amazing discovery. During the four years of secret exploration, the discoverers realized that the cave's extraordinary variety of colors and formations must be preserved.
The cave's existence became public knowledge in 1988 when its purchase was approved as an Arizona State Park. Extraordinary precautions have been taken during its development to conserve the cave's near-pristine condition.
“Fascinating experience. Walking through a living cave and seeing all the beauty that nature offers. If you in that area of Arizona it it a must. Make reservations early”. —Sue T., July 21, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
“Amazing Caverns — Must See!”
“This is by far one of the best physical caverns I've seen, and absolutely one of the best tours ever!” —HumerousUserName, July 21, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
“Excellent — Kids Enjoyed It.”
“My three boys (ages 5, 7, 8) enjoyed this cave tour very much, as did my husband and I. My kids are mellow, so walking in the cave for 45+ minutes was an easy undertaking. If your kids are rambunctious, you may want to wait until they are older.” —SDFive, July 14, 2014 Read Other Visitor Reviews.
This bell canopy is one of many fascinating features on the Rotunda-Throne Room tour at Kartchner Caverns State Park. It is formed by water flowing over a bump on the wall, then dripping to create this beautiful formation.
In November 1974 two young cavers, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts, were exploring the limestone hills at the base of the Whetstone Mountains. In the bottom of a sinkhole they found a narrow crack leading into the hillside. Warm, moist air flowed out, signaling the existence of a cave. After several hours of crawling, they entered a pristine cavern.
The formations that decorate caves are called “speleothems.” Usually formations are composed of layers of calcite called travertine deposited by water. The form a speleothem takes is determined by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.
Kartchner Caverns is home to:
- one of the world's longest soda straw stalactites: 21 feet 3 inches (Throne Room)
- the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall (Throne Room)
- the world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk (Big Room)
- the first reported occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room)
- the first cave occurrence of “birdsnest” needle quartz formations
- many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites, and rimstone dams.
Please Remember: Many of the formations you will see have been continuously growing for tens of thousands of years. The formations grow very slowly and are extremely fragile. When visiting remember that formations damaged even by accident will stop growing. To avoid damage to the cave and injury to yourself please refrain from touching any of the formations.
- Alamo Lake
- Buckskin Mountain
- Cattail Cove
- Lake Havasu
- River Island
- Yuma Quartermaster Depot
- Yuma Territorial Prison
- Dead Horse Ranch
- Fort Verde
- Red Rock
- Riordan Mansion
- Slide Rock
- Verde River Greenway
- Boyce Thompson Arboretum
- Fool Hollow Lake
- Lost Dutchman
- Lyman Lake
- Tonto Natural Bridge