Kartchner Caverns Plans Updates to Cave Lighting

Courtesy of Kartchner Caverns State Park

Important updates to the lighting fixtures at Kartchner Caverns State Park in Southern Arizona will force closures of the caverns' two main tours in late November and December, the park announced in a news release.

Arizona State Parks and Trails says the park, which opened in 1999 and features a massive and still-forming network of limestone caves, is replacing its current lighting system, which is nearly 20 years old. New, environmentally friendly LED fixtures will reduce the heat inside the caves and help keep the caverns closer to their natural temperature.

Doing so will also prevent the growth of algae, which can damage the cave's delicate formations, the department says.

The caves will close one at a time, so at least one of the tours will be open throughout the process. The Big Room will close from November 26 to December 7, while the Rotunda and Throne Room will close December 10-21.

All other features of the park, such as trails and camping cabins, will remain open while the work is underway, the park says. It's recommended that visitors reserve a tour in advance.

To learn more about Kartchner Caverns State Park, visit the park's website.

0 Comments Add Comment

2 State Parks Add Camping Cabins

The interior of one of the new camping cabins. | Courtesy of Arizona State Parks and Trails

Two of Arizona's most popular state parks recently added facilities that allow visitors to enjoy a comfortable overnight stay.

As Arizona State Parks and Trails announced recently, Lost Dutchman and Patagonia Lake state parks now feature camping cabins large enough to accommodate six people. At Lost Dutchman State Park, east of the Phoenix area, the cabins are at the base of the Superstition Mountains. At Patagonia Lake State Park, in Southern Arizona, they're near the water.

Each cabin includes a fire ring, a picnic table and a ramada outside. All the cabins are wheelchair accessible and have easy access to nearby parking areas and restroom facilities. They feature solar cooling and heating systems, meaning they're comfortable any time of year, the department says.

Arizona State Parks and Trails is offering special introductory rates on the cabins through October 31, the department said in a news release. You can make reservations up to a year in advance. Several other state parks already offer the cabins.

For more information, visit the Arizona State Parks and Trails website. And don't forget that when you buy an annual pass, you get a free one-year subscription to Arizona Highways.

0 Comments Add Comment

Buy a State Parks Pass, Get an Arizona Highways Subscription Free

Catalina State Park, near Tucson, is one of the jewels of the Arizona State Parks and Trails system. | David Dawson

Visitors who buy an annual pass to Arizona's state parks will now get an added bonus: a free subscription to Arizona Highways.

Starting this month, the magazine is partnering with Arizona State Parks and Trails to offer a free one-year subscription to those who buy either a standard or a premium annual pass.

"This is part of an amazing partnership we have with Arizona Highways," said Sue Black, executive director of the parks department, in a news release. "When you visit the parks, you see the rich diversity of the state, and when you read the magazine, you can experience even more of what makes Arizona truly special."

A standard annual pass costs $75, plus a $7 handling fee, and covers day use at all state parks, except weekends and state holidays during peak season at a handful of the most popular parks. A premium pass costs $200, plus the $7 fee, and allows access to any park on any day of the year. Both passes allow entry for up to four people in one vehicle.

The free subscription will be available everywhere passes are sold. For more information about the passes, click here.

Among the highlights of Arizona's state park system are Kartchner Caverns State Park, which features a spectacular network of limestone caves; Oracle State Park, whose 15-mile trail network is now open every day of the week; and Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park, the largest and oldest botanical garden in the state. For a full list of state parks, click here.

"There is such natural synergy between Arizona Highways magazine and Arizona State Parks and Trails," said Win Holden, publisher of the magazine. "When circumstances prevent an in-person visit to a state park, you can still get a healthy dose of spectacular landscape photography and the state’s best hiking and scenic drives inside the magazine each month."

0 Comments Add Comment

Wild Arizona: Feeling Superstitious

J.T. Dudrow Photography | Superstition Wilderness

J.T. Dudrow Photography | Superstition Wilderness

EDITOR’S NOTE: Each afternoon in September, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, we’re spotlighting three of Arizona’s 90 wilderness areas. For more information about any of the state’s wilderness areas, visit Wilderness.net, a collaboration between several wilderness-related organizations. The information here comes from that site and the wilderness areas’ managing agencies. Always contact the managing agency before visiting a wilderness to learn about any restrictions that may be in effect. To see our entire Wild Arizona series, click here.

Superstition Wilderness
Among Arizona’s most iconic wilderness areas, this place provides ample hiking opportunities on 180 miles of trails. Two of them, the Peralta and First Water trails, receive 80 percent of the Superstitions’ annual human traffic. Other trails are virtually deserted. Pack plenty of water and exercise extreme caution in summer.

Location: East of Phoenix
Established: 1964
Size: 159,757 acres
Managed by: U.S. Forest Service
Contact: Mesa Ranger District, 480-610-3300 or www.fs.usda.gov/tonto

White Canyon Wilderness
White Canyon features 800-foot walls, eroded formations and numerous side canyons, along with saguaros and other desert plants. When summer monsoon storms flood the area, look for waterfalls and quiet pools. Black bears and mountain lions are permanent residents here.

Location: South of Superior
Established: 1990
Size: 5,800 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Tucson Field Office, 520-258-7200 or www.blm.gov/arizona

Woolsey Peak Wilderness
You’ll find rugged topography and scenic vistas in this wilderness, which is dominated by 3,270-foot Woolsey Peak. An especially inviting region for desert backpacking, you’re likely to spot desert bighorn sheep, mule deer, bobcats, hawks and owls here.

Location: Northwest of Gila Bend
Established: 1990
Size: 64,000 acres
Managed by: Bureau of Land Management
Contact: Lower Sonoran Field Office, 623-580-5500 or www.blm.gov/arizona

One Comment Add Comment