Lodging near Kartchner Caverns
Here at Westin La Paloma, you have some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes to explore deliciously close to our Sonoran Desert paradise. Not long ago here at the blog we profiled one world-class destination, Saguaro National Park. Well, today we’ve got another to introduce you to: the underground wonderland of Kartchner Caverns!
Kartchner Caverns State Park
Kartchner Caverns State Park is just a little more than an hour’s drive southeast of our desert resort—and a gorgeous drive it is. Set within the innards of the Whetstone Mountains, the caverns in question formed over hundreds of thousands of years as groundwater percolated through a geological layer known as the Escabrosa limestone, and the chemical weathering and mineral deposition that created this jaw-dropping subterranean realm are still at work.
Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts discovered the caverns in 1974, and in 1999 they officially opened to the public: the product of many years of work transferring “Xanadu,” as Tenen and Tufts called the cave system, into state ownership.
The Speleothem Splendors of the Kartchner Caverns
An unbelievable spread of speleothems—subterranean landforms forged from mineral deposits—make Kartchner Caverns one of the most remarkable cave-scapes in the United States. The site encompasses some genuinely superlative features: The famous Throne Room boasts a “soda straw stalactite” some 21 feet long, one of the biggest on the planet, as well as Arizona’s heftiest and tallest column, the 58-foot-high Kubla Khan. The Big Room, meanwhile, lays claim to the greatest extent of brushite moonmilk, a lovely phosphate formation, anywhere in the world.
Touring the Kartchner Caverns
Kartchner Caverns State Park offers a variety of guided tours through these astonishing underground voids: You can tour both the Rotunda and Throne Room as well as the Big Room. On Saturdays, the special Helmet & Headlamp Tour lets you see the caves as their discoverers did: by the mysterious illumination of headlamps alone.
Needless to say, it’s mighty hard to return to the sunlit world unimpressed.
Soak Up Mountain Scenery, Too
While the caves are understandably the main attraction, the park also maintains some beautiful aboveground trails (the 4.2-mile-long Guindani Trail and the 2.5-mile Foothills Loop) that serve up sprawling views of the Whetstone Mountains.
Don’t Miss the Kartchner Caverns On Your Next Stay at the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa
Take a daytrip to Kartchner Caverns while relishing the luxury of the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa: These caves are some of the standout natural wonders in Arizona, and you won’t regret the excursion!