Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson, Arizona, is one amazing adventure -- below and above ground.
For an evening of desert star gazing don't miss "Star Night at Kartchner Caverns" on Saturday, March 26, 2011; 5:30 p.m.
Volunteer astronomer, and dark sky advocate, Bob Gent will give an “Introduction to the Night Skies of Kartchner” talk in the Discovery Center auditorium.
While in the Discovery Center take a look at the museum exhibits, regional and educational displays.
After the presentation, look at the magnificent night skies through local astronomers' telescopes. During the September 2010 "Star Night," folks were able to observe "a number of wonders of the night sky. We looked at the crescent shaped planet Venus, the craters of the moon, star clusters, galaxies, and much more," according to the park's website.
On March 26, park representatives say, "The planet Saturn will be rising in the eastern skies after sunset, and the Great Orion nebula will be in the southwestern skies. In addition to many other wonders of the night sky, everyone will enjoy seeing galaxies from far, far away."
Be sure to bring a folding chair, red light, sweater or jacket, and "enthusiasm to enjoy and conserve our beautiful night skies."
Saturday, March 26, 2011; 5:30 p.m.
The fall Star Night at Kartchner Caverns will be Sept. 24, 2011 and at Alamo Lake State Park on Nov. 19. 2011.
If you go:
Kartchner Caverns State Park
on AZ-90, 9 miles south of I-10
Latitude: N 31 50.134
Longitude: W 110 20.621
Cost: $6/vehicle for the night of viewing.
While you're there:
If you want to make a day of it, arrive early and take in one of the two fascinating 1½ hour cave tours. The Big Room is open only half the year, from Oct. 15-April 15, because a resident bat population calls it home the other six months of the year.
The Rotunda/Throne Tour is open through Oct. 9, 2011, then closed Oct. 10-Dec.14, to re-open on Dec. 15. On this tour, visitors will discover the role that water plays in creating the cavern and see the discoverers' original trail.
Cave Tour Fees: See complete Cave Tour Information Page
RV and tent camping Fees: $25 (All sites have electricity and water hookups).
For more information on the Kartchner Caverns read Tina and Russ DeMaris' RV Short Stops article on "Arizona's Kartchner Caverns a Great Summer Cool Spot."
Photo: Source: Kartchner Caverns State Park.