Thursday, July 9, 2009

Arizona's Karchner Caverns a Great Summer Cool Spot

Traveling through the Arizona hot country? It's seemingly endless desert landscape can tire the patience of even the most sainted RVer. Will this hot stuff ever end? It does under the ground, and we aren't talking about taking a "dirt nap." Just off south east Arizona's Interstate 10 you'll find a cool place to visit, along with some spectacular underground scenery like you've never seen before at Karchner Caverns.

Back in the 1970's, two young cave explorers were poking around in a big sinkhole near Benson, Arizona. A blast of warm air emanating from a crack in the sinkhole led them into a huge limestone cavern filled with thrilling sights: Unusual limestone formations, apparently unseen by human eyes, perhaps forever. They held the cave a secret for many years, finally bringing the property owners in on their find. Eventually a deal was banged out with Arizona State Parks, who purchased the property, and carefully protected their new asset until they could be developed in a way that would safeguard the cavern's outstanding features.

These caverns are "living," in that the growth of limestone formations is still ongoing. The slow, steady drip of mineral bearing water over the centuries has slowly built up formations. And they are truly outstanding--you may have seen stalactites and stalagmites before, but have you ever seen a turnip shield? How about birdsnest needle quartz?

The "off season" of June to early September yields tour bargains. The one and a half hour tour is well worth the regular admission price. Adding a big discount is just icing on the--cavern.

Check out more great sights with: Monumental Places National Parks & Monuments in the Grand Canyon state.

photos: Top by Mike Lewis under Creative Commons license--you are free to share and make derivative works of the file under the conditions that you appropriately attribute it, and that you distribute it only under a license identical to this one. Official license. Bottom: R&T DeMaris.

1 comment:

  1. I read in their brochure, and was told over the phone, that it is VERY HUMID in the caverns.

    From their web site
    The cave has an average temperature of 72° Fahrenheit (22° Celsius) and 99% humidity year-round, so it will feel very warm and steamy. Most areas are dimly lit and some passages may pass through narrow or enclosed areas. This may be difficult for persons with mobility, respiratory or claustrophobia issues.