Archive for the ‘ Arizona ’ Category

 

Mountain Ranch Resort

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

The Grand Canyon State of Arizona is an amazing place and its diversity never ceases to amaze me. Like a lot of folks from the Valley of the Sun, I try to escape the summer heat as often as I can. Thankfully, the pilgrimage is only a couple hours north of the Phoenix area via Interstate 17. As a road trip blogger, however, I try never to drive the interstate, but rather the scenic highways and byways—the slower we go, the more we see.

It was mid-July and the humid monsoon was just beginning, so I was itching to get out of town. I began my journey from Wickenburg and headed north via Highway 89 up Yarnell Hill, (Yarnell may sound familiar as it received a lot of national media attention last year due to a devastating wildfire that clamed the lives of 19 hot shot firefighters). It didn’t take long before I had climbed over 2000 feet and began to see and feel the climate and topography change from the desert floor below. As I continued north, I discovered an idyllic area called, Peeples Valley, where I saw plenty of white pipe rail fenced horse property and large ranches. The ascent continued and it wasn’t long before I had climbed an additional 1000 feet in elevation and was now at 5500’ and driving through the first capital of Arizona, Prescott. Continuing north on Highway 89, I drove through an extremely unique geological area scattered with colossal sized granite boulders and towering hoodoos called, the Granite Dells.

I drove another hour or so and climbed yet another 1000+ feet and was soon in the town of Williams…it was so cool and comfortable it felt like I was in another state. Williams is known for being the gateway to the Grand Canyon and borders the historic Route 66 Highway. It’s also just 25 miles or so west of Flagstaff. The rolling hills and tall pine trees were a clear indication that I had indeed escaped the heat of the desert.

Just outside of Williams, and nestled at the base of Beacon Hill, is where I would call home for the next several days…Mountain Ranch Resort. This hotel was built back in the 60s, but has been family owned and operated since 1985. Just recently the hotel has been going through a dramatic transformation…from a place to stay the night while visiting the Grand Canyon, to a destination with a strong emphasis on health and wellness. From myriad activities like tennis, volleyball, hiking and mountain bike riding, to functional fitness classes, a wellness spa (coming soon) and, a restaurant serving only fresh, organic (when possible), healthful menu items, the Mountain Ranch Resort is committed to providing and promoting a sanctuary for guests who want to learn about, or maintain a healthy lifestyle.

As soon as you walk through the beautiful solid wood and iron doors into the lobby, a staff member, who is most likely one of the owners or a family member, warmly greets you. The lobby is so inviting with its oversized leather furniture and large stone fireplace. The old gift shop has been converted into a fashionable boutique where the lady in your life will rejoice. From stylish jeans, hats of all sorts to jewelry and jackets, there are many unique items to choose from.


All the rooms at the Mountain Ranch Resort are being renovated…I stayed in a Superior room that was just completed in May of 2014, which was quite spacious. The Bernhardt furnishings gave the room a hint of Northern Europe, with its sophisticated edge and rustic appeal. The bath area includes a tub-shower combination, granite top vanity area, two luxurious bathrobes, weight scale, hairdryer and a Keurig coffee maker. There is also a 39″ flat-screen television in the room with complimentary Wi-Fi.

An amazing breakfast is also included in your stay. Adhering to the health and wellness theme, breakfast consists of your choice of a made-to-order omelet with your own selection of fresh vegetables, meats and cheeses, or, a whole grain Belgian waffle. There is also fresh cut fruit, berries, oatmeal, homemade granola, and an array of healthfully fresh-baked breads and muffins. You can also have a glass of freshly squeezed juice or cup of organic, locally roasted coffee.

After breakfast, you may want to participate in a functional fitness class that will certainly burn enough calories to keep you in a deficit during your stay (see clips in video above). If you’re looking for something a bit less strenuous, you can take out one of their complimentary mountain bikes and explore the trails of the Kaibab National Forest at the back of the property. If you’re from a lower altitude like I am, be warned that it won’t take long for you to be out of breath like I was. Regardless of the lack of oxygen, I had a blast riding around Beacon Hill. I ended up riding the bike as high as I could go until it was just too steep. I locked the bike up and decided to hike the rest of the way. Once atop Beacon Hill, you have a marvelous 360 degree view.

They also have stables on the property and you can sign up for a couple different horseback rides. If you just want to relax, you can do that too…either by the pool, or, while receiving a spa treatment (coming soon).

In addition to all the on-site activities, there are also a number of nearby things you won’t want to miss. For starters, you can’t overlook seeing the Grand Canyon; it’s just 60 miles due north of the Resort. If you don’t feel like driving, you can head to downtown Williams and hop aboard the train. It departs at 9:30am and allows passengers a few hours to explore before returning to Williams at 5:30pm. If you take the train, there is a little ol’ western surprise on the ride back waitin’ for ya…that’s all I’ll say. Back in town you might want to peruse the streets of downtown, one of which is the historic Route 66. I really got a kick out of taking pics of some of the old buildings, cars and signage. There are, of course, a lot of gift shops and tourist attractions, but there are also some nice restaurants and live music. You can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia walking along Route 66.

Just down the street from the Mountain Ranch Resort is a very cool wildlife experience called, Bearizona. This wildlife exhibit is unique in that the first part is a several mile drive through the animals’ natural habitats (note: you cannot get out of your car and windows must be rolled up). Here, you’ll see bears, buffalo, wolves and other animals. After the driving portion is complete, there is a zoo-like area where guests can walk around to a variety of enclosed habitats. One thing not to miss is the Birds of Prey performance that takes place at three different times each day. Hawks and owls fly right over the heads of those in attendance. It’s really a neat experience (Again, see the video for some footage of this venue).

After a full day of activities, you won’t want to miss a healthful culinary journey at the Ranch Bar & Grill. Chef Darren Kirkpatrick and his team have a wonderful menu that encompasses something for everyone. The best part is that you may feel as though you had an indulgent meal, but without any of the guilt. Everything on the menu has been painstakingly thought through to make it as fresh and nutritional as possible. During my stay I tried just about everything on the menu…here are some of my highlights:

APPETIZERS

  • Crab Cakes with a whole wheat panko, romesco sauce and a jicama slaw.
  • Beet Caprese with roasted golden beets, fresh mozzarella with a basil pesto and black truffle balsamic drizzle.
  • ENTRÉES

    • Pork Tenderloin with peach chutney, baby bok choy and roasted purple fingerling potatoes.
    • Gamberetti Pasta with fresh prawns, sundried tomatoes, goat cheese, stuffed pepper with pesto cream sauce over linguini.
    • Chicken Sandwich with avocado feta puree, arugula, Campari tomatoes with a lemon citrus aioli on a wheat telera roll.
    • They even have a full bar with some delicious signature cocktails.

      The Mountain Ranch Resort is one of those places where I think guests will be pleasantly surprised by the overall value and will certainly want to stay more than a single night just en route to the Grand Canyon.

      If you’ve ever stayed at the Mountain Ranch Resort in Williams, Arizona, please leave a comment below and let my readers and me know what you think.

      Mountain Ranch Resort Contact Information:

      Phone: 928-635-2693
      Address: 6701 East Mountain Ranch Road | Williams, Arizona 86046
      Website: MountainRanchResort.com
      Rates: $129-$304 (varies based on accommodation level, dates and amenities)

Exploring Page, Lake Powell and beyond

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Page, Arizona is located in northern Arizona near the Utah border and is home to one of my favorite recreational lakes…Lake Powell.  This stunning body of water has more coastline than the entire west coast…with finger inlets of turquoise blue water stretching for miles.

Lake Powell is encompassed within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area and is at the mouth of the Grand Canyon.  The lake is extremely scenic with tall canyons, red rock formations and sand dunes—it’s a wonderful place for recreation such as house-boating, water skiing, kayaking, fishing, hiking, camping, exploration and so much more.

Recently, over the Memorial Day weekend, I took my girlfriend Terri to Page, where I had a fantastic time showing her around this wondrous area in which I’ve explored many times. While there are a number of lodging options in Page, we opted to camp under the stars since we both really enjoy the outdoors. Whether you want to camp by the water, in a developed campground, or in a remote area like we did, there are plenty of options.

Our first two days were spent right in the Page and Lake Powell area, where we toured the Glen Canyon Dam, a local museum and took a cruise of the lake. The next day, we hopped aboard a converted transport vehicle en route to Antelope Canyon,  a popular sandstone slot canyon made up of unique formations and light castings that only nature can provide. On our third day we headed to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, about a 2.5 hour drive from Page. The North Rim is only open a few months out of the year, with far fewer people visiting. While my girlfriend hails from Canada, she’s lived in Arizona most of her life and had never seen the Canyon before. Her expressions of the awe-inspiring sight were priceless—I was excited to share the experience with her. As the afternoon waned, we left the park in search of a new spot to camp…this time at nearly 8000′ where the landscape contrasted that of our previous two days. We found a remote site nestled among tall pine trees, where we quickly hung a hammock and relaxed as we watched a gentle breeze move clouds past the swaying the tree tops.

The next day we headed back toward Page down highway 89a, where in what seemed like only a matter of moments, we dropped from the dense forest, to a vast vista of red rock. Along the way are some really interesting Navajo sites to see, including an area with giant eroded boulders in which the native people utilized by laying smaller rocks to create walls, while the boulder acts as a roof. These structures are open to explore, while you’ll often find Native Americans selling their handmade jewelry. As we continued, we veered off and took a road down to Lee’s Ferry, which is located on the banks of the Colorado River. This area is popular with folks interested in fishing and to be near the water…while also being the starting point for many rafting expeditions.

It was a fantastic introduction to Northern Arizona for Terri, however we clearly have to go back as there are so many activities and sights to explore.

Here are 10 ideas of things to do when visiting Page Lake Powell:

  1. Rainbow Bridge – Access is by boat only…if you don’t have your own, there are a couple of tour companies offering excursions.
  2. Tour the lake – Again, if you don’t have your own boat, do yourself a favor and hop on a tour boat for the Antelope Canyon Cruise…a short introduction to the lake.
  3. Dam tour – You can visit the Glenn Canyon Damn both atop and below…both are very interesting.
  4. Lone Rock – Located at the north-end of the lake with great access for boats with sand dunes and cliff-jumping, this is a cool place to explore.
  5. Hiking - You can chose from difficult routes like West Canyon or the White Canyon hikes, or, enjoy a more leisurely stroll along the beaches and into side canyons. There are a number of hiking tours companies available…depending on skill level and duration desired.
  6. Fishing - Catch small-mouth bass, striped bass, walleye, catfish and bluegill in the lake’s various canyons and bays.
  7. Kayaking – Renting a kayak or taking a tour and exploring some of the remote canyons is a great solace experience.
  8. Antelope Canyon - You’ve probably seen the amazing pictures of Antelope Canyon before, but probably didn’t know where it was located. This is an fantastic experience and a must when visiting Page / Lake Powell. Tip: for photographers…try and get on a tour that puts you in the Canyon around noon for the best light. Also, there are tours for both upper and lower Antelope Canyon…I’ve done both and would give the edge to the lower.
  9. Wesley Powell Museum – Learn about the canyon before, and, after the damn was built.  John Wesly Powell was the first person to traverse down the mighty Colorado River.
  10. Relax - Don’t forget to just relax and take in all of the scenery.  Take lots of pictures and video. The sky is always changing, so no two pics are ever the same.

If you’ve ever been to Page and/or Lake Powell, please leave a comment below and share your favorite activities.

Arizona Renaissance Festival

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

The Arizona Renaissance Festival is is one of the largest such festivals in the nation. This year festival organizers are celebrating its 26th season, which runs from the beginning of February through the end of March. The 30-acre park is located just outside of Apache Junction, about 50 miles east of Phoenix.

If you’re not familiar, the Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park full of entertainment, reenactments and mischievous antics, which are performed throughout the park on 13 different stages, including a jousting venue.

I attended the festival a few weeks ago and just had a blast, it seems each year it gets bigger and better. All the participating actors take the festival very seriously…you can’t help but feel you’ve been transported back in time some five hundred years.

The village marketplace has over 200 shops offering an array of goods. You’ll find circus events, arts and crafts, a jousting tournament and a feast, all rolled into one non-stop, day-long adventure.

If you’ve ever been to the Arizona Renaissance Festival, please leave a comment below and share your favorite activities or events.

Arizona Renaissance Festival Information:

When to go: Open Saturday and Sunday from 10am to 6pm (rain or shine)
Dates: Early February to the end of March
Website: RoyalFaires.com
Directions: Google Map to Arizona Renaissance Festival
Address: 12601 East Highway 60, Gold Canyon  AZ  85118

Chihuly exhibit at Desert Botanical Garden

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Located in the heart of Phoenix, Arizona is one of the city’s most popular and illustrious attractions…the Desert Botanical Garden. No matter when you visit, you’ll be awed by the diversity of the Sonoran Desert. However, if you go now until May 18th, 2014, you’ll be dazzled by the outdoor Chihuly Exhibit. As you stroll the beautifully maintained garden trails, you’ll be wowed by the vibrant works of art on displayed, each thoughtfully created to enhance the desert garden setting.

Chihuly and his team are renowned for their ambitious architectural installations around the world. It was back in 2001 when Chihuly had the audacious idea to display delicate works of glass art in an outdoor setting. For more than a decade now, Chihuly’s ever-changing outdoor display tours the best gardens around the world. This is the second time the Chihuly Exhibit has been on display at the Desert Botanical Garden and I can tell you that is certainly worth a visit. My recommendation is to go in the late afternoon so that you can see the exhibit in both the daylight, as well as the evening. As soon as night falls, the exhibit is transformed as strategically placed lights accentuate details of the glass that can be minimized during the day.

If you’ve been to a Chihuly Garden Exhibit before, whether at the Desert Botanical Garden or elsewhere, please share your experience below by posting a comment.

Desert Botanical Garden Chihuly Exhibit Information:

Time Periods: There are three time periods per day to choose from: 8 a.m. – Noon / 12 – 4 p.m. / 4 – 8 p.m.
Ticket Prices: Adult: $22, Senior: $20, Student: $12, Child: $10
After Dark: Special day/times 8pm-midnight March 1, 8, 15, 22 and 29 | April 5, 12 and 19
Address: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix, Arizona
Phone: 480-941-1225
Website: Desert Botanical Garden

The Watchtower; best Grand Canyon view

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

The Grand Canyon is a distant second to the Smoky Mountains as the most visited National Park in the country, with over three million visiting annually. The vast majority of visitors come through the South Rim entrance, each in search of the best place to see the awe-inspiring sight. Few are aware that there is actually an East Entrance to the Grand Canyon, also known as Desert View. The Desert View (or East Entrance) is home to probably the best and most expansive single view of the Grand Canyon, it’s located at the Watchtower observation platform.

Grand Canyon East is where you’ll find the authentic looking 70′ Hopi Watchtower. This replica was design by famed architect, Mary Colter, and was the last of the visitor concession structures to be completed at the park in 1932. The most architecturally impressive section of the tower has to be the interior of the building. The space is an open shaft surrounded by circular balconies edging the walls and small staircases that lead up to subsequent levels.  The walls are covered with beautiful murals, hieroglyphs, pictographs and petroglyphs painted by Hopi artists.  Experiencing the multiple levels and circular balconies will fill visitors with an overwhelming sense of the southwest.

Grand Canyon East begins below Glen Canyon Dam, which creates the magnificent Lake Powell recreation area. Access to the East Entrance is off highway 89, south of Lake Powell by nearly 80 miles. After turning west onto highway 64, you have another 50 miles until the Grand Canyon East Entrance. If you’re already at the South Rim, you can just drive east along the edges of the canyon for 26 miles of scenic views.

If you’ve ever been to the Watchtower at Grand Canyon East, leave a comment below and let me readers and me know what you enjoy most.

Hoover Dam

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Hoover Dam is located about half an hour outside Las Vegas and situated in between Arizona and Nevada. Filled with history and a colossal view, the Hoover Dam is certainly a worthwhile stop. It’s easy to be awed by the Hoover Dam. If you have just a few minutes, stop along one of the many roadside viewpoints–perfect for snapping a photo and taking in the immensity of the dam.

If you have have more than a few minutes, be sure to check out the power plant tour and see how the dam operates, it plays an essential role in brining much needed water to the Southwest. When it was completed in 1936, the Hoover Dam was quite an engineering marvel and was the largest dam in the world at that time.

Hoover Dam straddles the mighty Colorado River, which acts as the border between Arizona and Nevada. The damn created Lake Mead, which is the largest reservoir in the US in water capacity.

In 2010 a four-lane highway bridge arching across the Colorado River opened, carrying traffic between Nevada and Arizona. The older two-lane highway across the dam could no longer handle the 15,000 vehicles that travel across each day. Construction on the 1,900-foot-long structure, named the Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge, began in 2005. An impressive feat of engineering, the supporting twin-rib arch span echoes the elegant curves of the dam itself.

Why you need to come to Arizona right now!

Monday, April 8th, 2013

The following photos will illustrate ten reasons to visit Arizona in the springeach represents at least one our our five senses, using the local flora as symbolic representations.  Spring is a fantastic time to visit the Arizona Sonoran Desert, with many unique cacti in full bloom, and, a variety of distinct scents and sounds.

Without further ado, here are ten spring reasons that will entice you to visit Arizona right now!

SUNSETS
The sunsets in Arizona are second to none.  This shot of a Joshua Tree in the early stage of the sun setting cycle illustrates a warm amber glow, while other evenings you’ll see rich reds’ streak across the sky. This shot was taking at the Flying E Dude Ranch.  (Sight)

VISTA VIEWS
There are large open spaces to enjoy, where the air is as clean as the sky is brilliant. This shot is just outside Wickenburg, which is about 60 miles N.W. of Phoenix. (Sight)

WILDFLOWERS
Poppies, Marigolds and Evening Primrose litter yards and sides of streets with a palette of vibrant colors.  (Sight, Smell)

INSECTS, BIRDS & WILDLIFE
Wildflowers and blooming cacti herald the arrival of migrating songbirds, butterflies and hummingbirds. There is so much life in the Sonoran Desert during spring months…from butterflies to 100s of species of birds chirping song.  If you’re lucky, you may even see a Gila Monster or other rare reptiles.  (Sight, Sounds)

DESERT HONEY
There is nothing sweeter than some desert honey…from mesquite to cactus blooms, to flavor-infused jalapeño or prickly pear, there are merchants selling the nectar that only Arizona can produce. This shot is of a bee pollinating a Palo Verde Tree. (Taste)

UNIQUE CACTI BLOOMS
There are so many variety of cacti in the Arizona Sonoran Desert, most have unique and splendid springtime blooms.  This photo is a hedgehog cacti. (Sight, Smell)

SEASONAL WATER
There are several areas where you’ll see seasonal water in the desert, and when you do, it’s a sight to behold.  This is the upper Hassayampa River in Yavapai County (Sight, Sound, Touch)

SUNRISES
Second only to Arizona sunsets, are the sunrises.  If you’re an early-bird,  you’ll bear witness to a stupendous sight as a rising glow illuminates the horizon, indicating the beginning of another beautiful day in the desert. (Sight)


NIGHT SKY
Because the sky is often so clear at night, the stars are quite bright against the dark sky.  This is a star-trail shot I took, which is a technique combining hundreds of photos into a single image. (Sight, Feel)

VIBRANT CONTRASTS
The amber light in the morning and evening hours. The bright warm sun in the afternoon, and the diverse textures  of the desert create vibrant contrasts that can only be found in the desert southwest of the Arizona Sonoran Desert.  (Sight)

If you live in, or have ever visited Arizona, please leave a comment below and share with my readers and me your favorite Arizona spring sights. If you enjoyed this post, please share it with friends and family by linking or posting on social media.

Wickenburg, AZ: Where cowboys roam and artists reign

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

If you conjure images of the west, generally what emerges in the mind’s eye is horses, open space, clean air and cowboys.  With fewer and fewer areas to enjoy a true western experience, there is one place that has flourished for well over a century…Wickenburg, Arizona.

Wickenburg is a true western town, where the spurs have a job to do and hats are not accessories. The town is full of character, where spirits remain wild and the souls are “western” through and through.

Located about sixty miles northwest of Phoenix, Arizona, Wickenburg is arguably the “west’s most western town.”  150 years ago a man named Henry Wickenburg came to the area in search of gold, he was fortunate enough to find it at the Vulture Goldmine, which helped the community become the third largest town in Arizona during its heyday.  2013 marks Wickenburg’s sesquicentennial, 150 years since Mr. Wickenburg first came to the area, making it the 2nd oldest town in the state north of Tucson.



Over the years Wickenburg has been able to maintain its roots as a western town, one that continues to embrace the cowboy lifestyle.  Visitors will enjoy a plethora of activities, from dude ranches, lush golf courses, shopping, horseback riding, hiking, arts & culture to exploring those great outdoors.

Here are my top-10 suggestions of things to do while in Wickenburg:

  • Stroll downtown and enjoy the various sculptures with audio narration and historic buildings. Stop by the Chamber of Commerce, which is located in the old Santa Fe train depot, and pick up info on the various Wickenburg activities.
  • Visit the Desert Caballeros Western Museum for an impressive collection of Western artifacts and Southwestern art.
  • Hike to the top of Vulture Peak, an iconic sight in Wickenburg. The 360 degree desert views are simply spectacular!
  • Check out the Hassayampa River Preserve, a lush riparian area where the normally underground river rises above ground. There are many trails and great places to enjoy a picnic.
  • Enjoy a concert or theatrical presentation at the Del E. Webb Center for the Performing Arts.
  • No visit to Wickenburg would be complete without a Dude Ranch experience. There are several guest ranches in the area where you can ride horses, rope cattle, square dance or enjoy a camp fire as a famous southwestern sunset fills the sky with color.
  • Take a Jeep tour of the area…see abandoned mines, get a history lesson, and enjoy the diverse landscape.
  • Peruse the local shops and galleries to get a real sense of the western flair in the community.
  • If you’re like me and you enjoy golf, don’t miss either of the two courses in town…the Wickenburg Country Club and Los Caballeros Golf Club.
  • If you really want to know what it was like back in the gold rush days, give the folks at Miner’s Creek a call for a gold panning experience in which you get to keep everything you find.

For more information on the area, visit the  Wickenburg Chamber of Commerce website.

Click the following link to see more pictures of Wickenburg.  If you’ve ever been to Wickenburg, please leave a comment below and share your favorite activities.

[Video] Cowgirl Up! “Quick Draw” contest

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Cowgirl Up! is an annual art event hosted by the Desert Caballeros Western Museum in Wickenburg, Arizona.  On the final day of the event there is a “Quick Draw” competition in which female artists have one hour to paint or sculpt an original piece of artwork. Shortly after the competition the various pieces go up for auction.  The video below is a snapshot of the event featuring V…Vaughan…from start, to finish, to sold.



If you’ve been to Cowgirl Up! before, leave a comment below and share your favorite aspects of the event.

Kartchner Caverns: Still growing after 200,000 years

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Arizona is a wondrous state for its diverse, natural and awe-inspiring beauty.  Everyone is familiar with the state’s most popular tourist sights, from the Grand Canyon, Sedona’s red rock country to the Saguaro National Park. However, there’s one sight that may not be familiar to you: A state park located about an hour south of Tucson…Kartchner Caverns.

Kartchner Caverns is one of the largest and most well-preserved living caves in the country…if not the world.  If you’ve never been inside a cave before, this is the one you must see.  Painstaking effort not only went into preserving the cave for generations to come, but also for making it the most comfortable cave for tourists to explore.  Paved trails run throughout the cave system, making it easy for folks of all ages and abilities to explore.

Your tour guide will explain the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, while giving you geologic and historic information.  While the cave is estimated to be 200,000 years old, it was not discovered until 1974 when two cavers were exploring the limestone hills at the base of the Whetsone Mountains. The Cavers (Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts) spent the next few years making trips back to their discovery to further explore the depths of the cave. It wasn’t until many years later that they shared their findings with the owners of the land. All involved decided the best way to preserve the site was to contact the state of Arizona and pitch the idea of creating a park. It took many more years of planning and meticulous construction efforts before the park would eventually open to the public in 1999.

In order to maintain the integrity of the cave’s ecosystem, only a limited number of visitors are allowed to tour the cave, so advanced reservations are required. I was living in Arizona when Kartchner first opened and remember the intense tour demand…if I recall correctly there was nearly a six month waiting period.  I was lucky enough to see the caverns in the early days as I had a friend whose cousin was a ranger at the park.  It’s been over a decade since I last visited Kartchner, since then it has expanded, now offering two tours in different parts of the cave.  Your first option is the Rotunda/Throne tour, which lasts 90 minutes. The second is a 105 minute tour of the “Big Room.” Both tours are equally interesting, but if you have to choose only one, I’d go with the Rotunda/Throne. Prices and additional info are below.

If you have been in the depths of a cave before, most likely it’s been cool inside, Kartchner is different…it’s warm, muggy and a constant 69.5 degrees (summer or winter).  As you tour the cave, you are left awestruck by the wonderment of this natural beauty. The Throne Room contains the world’s longest soda straw stalactite at over 21 feet.  The Big Room contains the world’s most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk and is closed from April 15 to October 15 each year because it’s a nursery roost for over 1,000 cave bats.



Kartchner Caverns is one of those unique sights that is certainly worth a visit, especially if you’ve never been to a cave before.   If you’ve ever been to Kartchner, please leave a comment below and share your experience with my readers and me.

Kartchner Caverns State Park Information:

Kartchner Caverns map:
Kartchner Caverns SP
Benson, AZ 85602

Phone:
(520) 586-4100
Website:
Karchner Caverns State Park
Admission:
$22.95 Adults/$12.95 kids 7-13/Kids under 7 are free