Believe it or not, in the 20+ years that I’ve lived in Tucson, I had never been Kartchner Caverns, a State Park in Arizona. Big mistake on my part. But as the saying goes, better late than never. It turns out that it’s a great day trip from Tucson.
Our trip to Colossal Cave a couple of weeks ago inspired me to plan a day trip to Kartchner Caverns. It’s located about an hour away from Tucson, which makes it an easy day trip for us. We booked a tour in advance and this time I made sure to include my son in the reservation (you can read all about my previous mistake here). Kartchner Caverns is very unique, especially since it’s an actual live cave. What exactly does that mean? It means that instead of being dried out, like most caves, it still has water percolating, which means that different formations are still (for the lack of a better word) forming.
Kartchner Caverns: A Great Day Trip from Tucson
My first impressions once we arrived: beautiful setting, plenty of shaded walking paths outside, and the park itself is very clean.
We walked around a bit, ate a quick lunch (I enjoyed a prickly pear lemonade!), and we gathered around for our tour. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and detailed. She not only told us about Kartchner Caverns, but also answered any questions we had. From there, we hopped on a tram which dropped us off at the entrance to the actual caverns. We passed the sinkhole, which is the area in which the caverns were discovered.
I don’t have pictures of the caverns since no one is allowed to take pictures inside (for the sake of preserving it), but even so, I don’t think the pictures would have done it justice. It was simply amazing, looking at all the different formations. And the finale? We were taken to the throne room, where we were able to sit down on benches and look at a light show accompanied by music. It was a great way to end our tour.
As for my son? I was nervous because no one is allowed to touch the cave and I hoped that my son wouldn’t be the rule breaker. I think preparation is a huge part when planning a trip with children, so my husband and I explained to our son several times that he wouldn’t be able to touch anything while inside the cave. And I’m now relieved to write that it was a success.
He enjoyed it, and asked us several questions about the different formations. And wanted to know why we couldn’t see the bats. And speaking of the bats, they were in the Big Room. Visitors can tour the Big Room but only during October-April. Why? Because the bats are in the Big Room during the remaining months. If you decide to book this particular tour, know that the child needs to be 7 years old and older in order to go on the Big Room Tour.
The gift shop also has several fun souvenirs, especially for younger children.
There were also exhibits inside the main building. However, my son’s favorite was the replica of a cave opening.
My son’s favorite purchase at the gift shop? Binoculars and a Junior Spelunker hat! Even today, he’s still carrying around his binoculars.
For those of you who live in the area, or who are planning a trip to the area, I highly encourage you to visit Kartchner Caverns. It’s definitely a great day trip from Tucson.