Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park

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The main parking lot for the Discovery Center is located at the third turn to the right after leaving the contact station. General parking is available throughout the lot, 13 handicapped accessible parking spaces and two van accessible sites are available in the northeast section of the lot, and 16 oversized RV parking spaces are located in the southeastern section of the lot. A section designated for eight school or tour buses is located at the second turn off to the right after leaving the contact station. A lot with 23 spaces is located at the Guindani trailhead, on the far southwest end of the park at the end of the main road.

Discovery Center (Visitor Center)

Kartchner Caverns Cave Tours
The Discovery Center is located on the northeast end of the main parking lot. Visitors should arrive one hour prior to tour time in order to obtain tickets and experience Discovery Center activities. The facility consists of the front desk, a theater presentation, museum, gift shop, an amphitheater, and food concession. At the front desk, customers may get park information, pick up reservation tickets, or purchase walk-up tickets. (Walk-up tickets may or may not be available on any given day; reservations are highly recommended.)

In the Tenen–Tufts Theater, a video presentation (15 minutes long) plays twice an hour. The program highlights the discovery aspect of the cave. The museum contains exhibits on cave formations, cave life, hydrology, and history. The gift shop offers a wide array of cave related and southwestern themed souvenirs, gifts and practical items to meet the needs of travelers. The amphitheater may host a variety of interpretive programs, weddings or other special events. There is also a Discovery Center Scavenger Hunt for Kids.

Gift Shop
Open 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (summer hours) and 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (winter hours). Store phone number is (520) 586-4167.

In our gift shop, you will find tasteful unique gifts with southwestern flavor. We offer a variety of Kartchner Caverns State Park souvenirs for adults and kids to include apparel and collectables, as well as a selection of Native American jewelry, postcards, magnets and rocks! We pride ourselves in offering products made in America, especially locally made products.

If you love books, we have an eclectic collection of books for your review covering subjects from the Cavern, nature, desert animals and birds to Arizona and Native American history and southwest cookbooks. Our Children’s section has educational toys, puzzles, plush animals and puppets to accent the children’s storybooks. Dig your fingers through our variety of worldly and colorful rocks, crystals, minerals and fossils.

We love getting to know our customer so feel free to give us a call with your requests or better yet come by and visit our gift shop. We will gladly ship to any destination in the continental U.S.

Bat Cave Café
The Bat Cave Cafe is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (with extended hours based on guest participation). We offer group catering services as well. Call ahead for details: (520) 586-4167.

The Cafe offers freshly made salads, sandwiches, wraps, quesadillas and individual pizzas, as well as a variety of drinks and Blue Bunny Ice Cream treats.

Enjoy your meal in a relaxing patio atmosphere surrounded by our Hummingbird Garden.

Visitors to Kartchner Caverns find that the Discovery Center is well-named. Caves are mysterious and unfamiliar to humans. These dark caverns peak our curiosity and lead us to seek answers for our many questions. Numerous interactive displays in the museum give visitors the opportunity to discover the answers for themselves.

Introductory panels in the geology exhibits show how caves form, why the formations look as they do and locations of other caves. Other displays are specific to Kartchner Caverns, one of the most-studied public caves. It ranks in the top ten caves worldwide for its unique mineralogy. Here you can touch local rock types. A cut-away view of the cave hill highlights some major features and tour routes at the touch of a button. Take a virtual tour of some of the cave’s most prominent formations at the Underground Journey exhibit. The hands-on hydrology display allows visitors to follow water underground, usually hidden from our view and shows why water is essential to the cavern remaining a “living” cave.

Though geology is the focus of many of the museum displays, exhibits also showcase cave and surface ecology, paleontology, archaeology, and history. The cave ecosystem is dependent upon a summer colony of cave myotis bats. Their guano nurtures a miniature world of amazing creatures. Explore the regional displays to educate yourself on the area’s plants, animals, and other attractions found aboveground. Paleontological studies inspired displays describing the area’s distant past. Bones, many from extinct animals, were discovered during the caverns’ development. Evidence of human habitation on the park property is also displayed.

Original 86,000-year-old sloth bones and a 36,000-year-old Horse skull are now on display in the Discovery Center. There are also small bones from bear, extinct antelope, bobcat, ringtail cat, and rabbit.

Kartchner Caverns has an intriguing story of discovery and development. A 15-minute video featuring the discoverers tells the story of finding and protecting the cave. View their meager caving equipment, and put yourself in their boots by crawling through simulated cave openings.

Arizona State Parks’ consultation with cave experts prior to development resulted in a display showing problems facing public caves and the importance of preserving them. Hopefully, the museum exhibits will also inspire you to appreciate and help preserve all caves.

Park Entrance Fee
Per vehicle (1-4 Adults): $7.00
Individual/bicycle: $3.00

Cave tour tickets are extra. Entrance fee waived for cave tour and campsite reservations.

Photo used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/