Deer Valley, AZ – Kartchner Caverns State Park will hold the annual “Cave Fest” event on Saturday and Sunday, February 8 and 9, 2014 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The park will have hour-by-hour activities and displays (see below) and the cave will be open for tours but should be reserved in advance.
Some of the activities and displays will include live animal displays, children’s activities and crafts, mining history display, caving equipment display, plus a Speleothem cave formation display. There will also be a book signing in the Gift Shop by children’s book author, Conrad Storad.
New this year is CaveSim, an electronic simulator with 60 feet of crawling passage and realistic cave formations that are electronically sensed to give users feedback with videogame-type scoring. This caving experience is for beginner and experienced cavers aged 6 and older.
The park entrance fee for this event is $6 per vehicle for all of the activities and presentations. Rotunda/Throne Room Cave tours are $23 for those aged 14 and older, $13 for those aged 7 to 13 and free for anyone younger than 7. Big Room tours $23 for those aged 14 and older and $13 for those aged 7 to 13. Note: Big Room Tours are not available for children younger than 7 years of age. The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour is half of a mile in length and takes approximately an hour and a half to complete. The Big Room Tour is half of a mile long and takes an hour and 45 minutes to complete.
The Discovery Center facility contains exhibits on cave formations, cave life, hydrology and history. 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 Gift Shop offers a wide array of cave related and southwestern themed souvenirs, gifts and practical items to meet the needs of travelers. The Bat Cave Cafe is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for dining while at the Park. There are hiking trails for the beginner to advanced hiker and a large, modern campground adjacent to the Whetstone Mountains.
Reservations for camping or cave tours can be made 24-hours a day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week. Reservations are highly recommended for all cave tours. Cave Tour tickets must be picked up AT LEAST 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour time. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles south of I-10 near Benson, Arizona.
Special presentations both days in the Tenen-Tufts Theater.
Saturday Presentation Schedule
10am: Coolest Invertebrates of Kartchner, Park Ranger Lisa Chittim
11am: Cavern Roosting Bats of the Southwestern U.S., Joel M. Diamond Ph.D
Noon: From the Ground Up, Developing Kartchner Caverns into a World Class Showcave, Park Ranger Chuck Duncan
1pm: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Inexperience- A Caving Safely Presentation, Park Ranger Kristy Sullivan
2pm: Preservation and Appreciation of Our Magnificent Night Skies, ASP RIM Astronomer Bob Gent
3pm: Cleaning up Caves: An Inside View to Cave Restoration, Park Ranger Erika Way
4pm: Rusticles and other Non-Cave Stalactites, Park Ranger Sarah Kirk
Sunday Presentation Schedule
10am: Unsolved Mysteries of Kartchner Cavern’s Arthropods, Bob Pape
11am: Bands on the Run: Hummingbird Banding at Sonoita Creek State Natural Area, Park Ranger Heidi Lauchstedt
Noon: Life and Times of the Kartchner Caverns Cave Myotis (Bats), Ronnie Sidner, Ph.D., Bat Biologist
1pm: Bat Ultrasonics: “What a Bat Hears,” Debbie Buecher, M.S., Wildlife Biologist
2pm: Off the Beaten Path, Park Ranger Marlo Buchmann
3pm: Creatures of the Night, Park Ranger Peter Kane
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703). Campsite reservations can be made online at AZStateParks.com or by calling the Reservation Call Center at (520) 586-2283. Open 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST. Follow AZStateParks on Twitter and Facebook.