The celebration commemorates Arizona State Parks acquisition of the Kartchner Caverns property. Arizona State Parks leased the property on April 29, 1988, and acquired the option to purchase from The Nature Conservancy in July 1988.
This paved the way to protect the cave and to develop it for public enjoyment. After research, planning, construction, mining concerns and legal issues, the upper caverns was dedicated on Nov. 5, 1999. Kartchner Caverns State Park was opened to the public on Nov. 12, 1999.
In honor of the Anniversary the park will be holding a variety of family friendly activities. These will include a presentation and book signing by Neil Miller whose book "Kartchner Caverns - How Two Cavers Discovered and Saved One of the Wonders of the Natural World" was recently published.
The book choronicles Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen's discovery of Kartchner Caverns through the opening of Kartchner Caverns State Park. There will also be a book signing by Benjamin Ilka, author and illustrator of "Caves Coloring Book," who will answer questions from the audience as well.
In addition, the park's Cave Unit and Park Rangers will be leading demonstrations and activities throughout the day. There will be interpretive talks about geology, bats, cave critters, the Junior Ranger program, and much more.
Make reservations for guided tours inside the cave and experience the wonder of cave discovery. Rotunda Tours are available for $18.95 for ages 14 & up and $9.95 for those aged 7 to 13 (children 6 and younger are free). (The Big Room will be closed at this time for the roosting of the bats). Reservations are not required but are recommended. Reservations can be made by calling (520) 586-CAVE (2283) or online at www.azstateparks.com.
To book a tour or for more information about the 20th Anniversary Celebration call Kartchner Caverns State Park at (520) 586-2283. The regular park entrance fee ($5 per vehicle) will be waived for this event.
Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles South of I-10 near Benson, Arizona. Park is open daily. Park hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Discovery Center hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For information about Arizona State Parks call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703) or visit the website at www.azstateparks.com.