TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Kartchner Caverns State Park will celebrate Earth Day and the return of the Myotis velifer bat colony to Kartchner Caverns State Park at "Bat Day" on April 18 and 19, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The day will be filled with family activities, presentations and hands-on activities. The cave will be open for tours but those should be reserved in advance.
The event will include presentations in the theater by State Park Rangers and guest speakers including Dr. Ted Fleming, Joel M. Diamond, PhD and Author Conrad Storad. There will also be live animal displays by the Arizona Game & Fish Department, Huachuca Area Herpetological Association and Forever Donkeys, Rescue and Adoption.
Also featured 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 six and older.
For more information call (520) 586-2283 or visit
. Kartchner Caverns State Park's Entrance Fee is $6 per vehicle for above ground activities. Full hookup camping sites are available at a fee of $25. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles south of I-10 near Benson, Arizona.
There are two guided tours inside the cave (the Big Room tour runs October through April). The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour is half of a mile in length and takes approximately an hour and a half to complete. The Headlight and Helmet Tour allows visitors to experience the cave as the discoverers did in 1974 using only the light provided by the headlamp on your helmet. This tour is a half-a-mile long and takes an hour and 15 minutes to complete. Note: Headlight and Helmet Tours are not available for children younger than 10 years of age. The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour is $23 for those aged 14 and older. It is $13 for youths aged 7-13 and free for those younger than 6. The Headlight and Helmet Tour is a specialty tour and is $30 for those aged 10 and older. Reservations for cave tours or camping can be made 24-hours a day at
or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week.
During the summer months, the cave's Big Room serves as a nursery for around 1,000 female cave myotis bats (scientific name Myotis velifer). Pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. Arizona State Parks conducted several studies before development to see how the bats could be best protected. The results of the studies led Arizona State Parks to close the Big Room for tours while the bats are using it. The bat populations are monitored each summer to see that they remain stable.
For information about all 28 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
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.