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Kartchner Caverns State Park

Kartchner Caverns State Park is an Arizona state park, located nine miles south of the town of Benson. The park encompasses most of a down-dropped block of Palaeozoic rocks on the east flank of the Whetstone Mountains in the Coronado National Forest. it is carved out of limestone and filled with spectacular speleothems which have been growing for 50,000 years, and are still growing due to careful development and maintenance.

The caverns were apparently unknown to man until 1974, when two amateur cavers found a narrow crack in the bottom of a sinkhole, and followed the source of moist air towards what ended up to being over 2½ miles of pristine cave passages. In the desire to avoid vandalism, the discoverers keep the location of the passages a secret for years; their story is finally made public in 1988 when the landowners sell the area to the state for development as a park and show cavern.

The caves have proven to be popular; over 750,000 people have visited the system in its first three years of the park's existence [1], a number over double what was projected in the 1992 master plan for the park.

The two major features of the caverns currently available to the public are the Throne Room and the Big Room. The Throne Room contains one of the world's longest (21' 2") soda straw stalactites and a 50-foot high column called Kubla Khan. The Big Room contains the world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk; it is closed for several months each year because it is a nursery roost for over 1000 cave bats.

Other features publicly accessible within the caverns include Mud Flats, Rotunda Room, Echo Passage, Strawberry Room, Cul-de-sac Passage, and Subway Tunnel.

Several sections identified by the discoverers remain undeveloped:

Kartchner Caverns State Park is considered by many to be the "crown jewel" of Arizona's state park system.

References and external links