Phoenix Area and Kartchner Caverns
February - March 2000
Apache Junction towards Tortilla Flat (sounds like a bad Western novel,
doesn't it?) is a ghost town which is now a tourist stop and enjoyed the
shops, train, horses, characters and wagons. An Indian hoop dancing
contest in Phoenix was the source of the hoop dancers from all over the
In Benson, Arizona we arose at 6:00 am to get in line to get tickets
to visit Arizona's newest state park, Kartchner Caverns. This massive
living cave just opened in November 1999. A TV news report stated
the cave tours were sold out until June. But, undaunted, we went
to Benson anyway, and learned 100 tickets become available daily.
The Visitor Center opens at 7:30, but people line up about 5:30.
So, leaving for the 7-mile trip to the park at 6 am gave us a number 22.
We got tickets for the 1:00 tour.
Anyway, the caverns were discovered by two cavers in 1974.
They kept their secret from the owners of the land until 1978. The
land was sold to the Arizona Park System in 1988. Eleven years later
the park opened. It was a massive undertaking. There is a column
(stalactites forming downward meeting stalagmites forming upward) that
is over five stories high. The rotunda room is the size of a football
field. The last time I got up that early to see something was when
we were in Australia going to Ayers Rock. No cameras were allowed,
so we only have photos of the grounds outside.