June 2007

Hike, Camp, Explore At Kartchner Caverns State Park

Although the Big Room is closed because the bats are roosting, there are still many things to do at Kartchner Caverns, including taking the Rotunda/Throne Room tour, hiking, camping, and educational programs in June.

On Saturday, June 2 from 10:30 to 11:15 a.m., visitors can learn about "Worms: Not Just for Bait." Ranger John Hawkins explains that worms are your friends (we're talking composting Egyptian red worms), and at the end of the program, you will be able to choose to participate in leaving the planet in as good or better condition than you found it.

On Tuesday, June 5 from 11 a.m. to 12 noon, explorers can discover historic mining in nearby Coronado National Forest with Ranger Mike Woods. See a display of mining photos and artifacts as we talk about the 20th century mining of tungsten, quartz, fluorite and uranium.

On Saturday, June 9 from 9:30 to 10:15 a.m., Ranger Peggy Quiatt will present "Bats: Friend or No?"  In Chinese lore, bats are considered symbols of good luck and happiness. 

Join us to find out what bats are, how they live and reproduce, what is harmful to them, what benefit they are to humans, and why they have been revered in other parts of the world.  (Open to visitors fourth grade and above.)

On Wednesday, June 13 from 1:30 to 2:15 p.m., Ranger Rachel McKay will present "Javelina — Don't Call Me a Pig!" Where did the javelina come from? Why do they eat prickly pear cactus? Learn why they smell so bad. Whether you love them or think they are pests, come learn about the javelina and how they have adapted to life in the desert.

On Saturday, June 16 from 1 to 1:45 p.m., come join Ranger Susan Stucker on an adventure as she unveils the small world that lives inside our caves. Where did the animals come from that live inside Kartchner Caverns? What do they eat? Where does the food come from? How do they get around in the dark and why would they rather live inside a cave?

On Saturday, June 23 from 10 to 11 a.m., Ranger Emily Bennett will give you an up-close and personal look at a live, common desert snake as you learn more about its fascinating behavior and physiology.  Whether you love them or loathe them, join us for insights into the integral role snakes play in our desert ecosystem.

On Tuesday, June 26 from 12 to 1 p.m., Ranger KC Curtis will present "Speleothems — What a Deep Subject." Learn how cave formations grow deep underground from Ranger Curtis with interactive experiments and displays.

Remember, it is much safer for visitors to book Kartchner Caverns State Park cave tours on the Internet or by phone before leaving for the park as there are only 100 walk-up tickets per day. Rotunda Tours are available for $18.95 for ages 14 and up and $9.95 for those aged 7 to 13 (children 6 and younger are free).

The park entrance fee is waived with a tour reservation made in advance. Reservations can be made by calling (520) 586-CAVE (2283) or online at www.azstateparks.com.

To book a tour or get information about Kartchner Caverns State Park, call (520) 586-2283. Park entrance fee is $5 per vehicle for up to two adults.

There is a charge of $2 per adult for each additional adult passenger. (The park entrance fee is waived with a tour reservation). An Arizona State Park Annual Pass is sold for $45 (some restrictions apply) and a Premium Annual Pass is sold for $100.

Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles South of I-10 near Benson, Ariz.  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 www.azstateparks.com.