Some friends suggested I visited another AZ State Park while in the south of the state and on my way back to Tucson from Douglas I stopped off for a visit. When I got to Kartchner Caverns I found that pictures were not allowed and I thought I would not write a post about them if I couldn’t accompany them with pictures of my own.
So why am I posting this anyway? – The history and story of the caverns, what they are and how they were discovered is fascinating and I would like to encourage anyone interested in geology or caves to go and visit.
A local geology student and his friend had been exploring the limestone Wetstone hills looking for caves with the ambition to find one that nobody had seen before. He got a tip from a miner about a possible sinkhole, which they explored in 1974. They crawled 400ft through a tunnel and discovered an enormous cave with stalagmites, stalactites, soda-straws, draperies and flowstones. On subsequent visits they found further rooms and caverns created by water travelling through the rock. The two kept this discovery secret and campaigned for it to become a State Park so that it could be protected. In 1988 they managed to get the State recognition and protection, convincing politicians to vote on a bill without publicly declaring the caves’ location so that they would not be overrun by disrespectful spectators.
The size of some of the stalagmites and stalactites proves how old the actual caves are, however in terms of being open to visitors, Kartchner Caverns are quite young. They contacted many other caves to ask about what they would have done differently if they could start over. This led to a number of unexpected processes, from a lint removal channel so as to not pollute the caverns, misters to walk through so that visitors assume the same humidity level as the cavern and don’t inadvertently extract air to a washing process to remove any skin-oils if a visitor unintentionally touches a rock inside the cave.
Please go and visit and support this park. Tickets need to be booked in advance either by phone or online and there are daily maximum visitor numbers. Professional pictures and further information is here http://azstateparks.com/Parks/KACA/index.html