Last weekend we took a drive to Southern Arizona to check out Kartchner Caverns. These caverns were discovered in the 1970′s but didn’t open to the public until November 1999. The trip to the caverns has been on our radar for years but we hadn’t made the trip out. We left in the early morning and it only took about 2 and a half hours for us to get there. While it made for a long day, we made the trip out there and back on the same day.
When we got there we were able to enjoy the desert scenery which meant seeing different cacti, bugs and desert flowers. There are trails around the caverns and a small walking trail near the opening of the Discovery Center.
Inside the discovery center we learned a lot about the history of the caves. The movie did a great job at sharing how the caves were discovered and the timeline of how the park opened. We also learned that they found the fossil of a sloth (replicated above). Sadly you can’t take photos inside so I don’t have many more photos but I hope to do one of the photo tours in the future.
These photos are of replicas from inside the discovery center. You don’t have to pay to go to the discovery center but you’ll have to pay to get into the park. When you buy a tour, you don’t have to pay to get into the park.
The tour was not only beautiful but we had a great science lesson. We learned about the different formations such as Soda Straws (listed above) and fried egg stalagmites (shown below). The inside of the caves is amazing and seeing all of these formations created just by water is absolutely mind blowing.
Either before entering the caves or after, you can also enjoy a delicious meal at the Bat Cave Cafe.
What you need to know if you go to Kartchner Caverns:
- Reserve your tickets online and book them early! We did luck out with same day reservations but we didn’t get to have much choice as to what times to choose from.
- It will be hot in the Summer but in the caves the temperature is about 70 degrees all year round and you don’t need a sweater or jeans because of the humidity.
- You can’t take photos and it’s a total bummer. If you bring your camera or other valuables you can’t bring them in the cave but they have lockers that cost $1 so you don’t have to keep them in your car.
Afterwords, you could take a trip to Tombstone.
Tombstone is a maintained “ghost town” and while it does hold history, I’m not sure there is much to see outside of “tourist” things. You pretty much have to pay to see anything such as OK corral or the court house.
We did take a stroll down the street and we enjoyed things like ice cream and even a shooting range.
We also went to the Boothill Cemetery which was actually free and interesting to see. We paid the $3 donation to receive the plot description booklet which I think was worth it to read the interesting facts of those who passed from over 100 years ago.