COCHISE COUNTY — It was 20 years ago this month that Kartchner Caverns State Park officially opened to visitors, and the public is invited to join in celebrating the anniversary with an all-day event featuring family activities and a guided hike along one of the park’s trails.
Gary Tennen and Randy Tufts discovered the caves beneath the Whetstone Mountains in 1974 and kept them secret for more than a decade as they sought a way to conserve and share their find. To preserve the caves and their environment, trails through them were developed and built by hand, with no heavy equipment used.
“Arizona State Parks and Trails has worked to protect and conserve the caves for 20 years, all while keeping them accessible to visitors,” Arizona State Parks and Trails Executive Director Bob Broscheid said in a Nov. 4 press release. “With help from our community partners, we’re able to showcase this incredible attraction to more than 125,000 people per year.”
The anniversary celebration will be held Saturday, Nov. 16. The public can enjoy family-friendly activities including solar viewing with the Huachuca Astronomy Society, geology activities for children and a reptile display. Young visitors can learn more about cave preservation and join the Junior Ranger program to learn about other state parks. The event will also include a 1 p.m. guided hike on the park’s Ocotillo Trail, which will start at the group ramada.