Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Crown Jewel of Southern Arizona

So, imagine that you're just a couple of guys out roaming around the Arizona countryside and you spy a little crack in the side of a mountain. I don't know about anyone else, but when I see a little hole anywhere around here, I'm thinkin' tarantula, rattlesnake, gila monster, scorpions. Truly, the VERY last thing I would think is, "Hmm. Wonder what's in there. Shall we go look?" No way, baby!"

But that's exactly what Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts did back in November of 1974. Amateur spelunkers they were. And were they ever rewarded! It opened up into a HUGE room! They didn't even tell the land owners for four years, for fear that it would be spoiled.

See, it's a living cave, full of stalactites and stalagmites, that are still growing today (unlike Carlsbad Caverns). It wasn't until 1988 that it became known to the public, when the Arizona State Park system bought the property. Extraordinary precautions have been taken during its development to conserve the cave's near-pristine condition.

Here's some info about these living caves.

Cave Formations
The formations that decorate caves are called “speleothems.” Usually formations are composed of layers of calcite called travertine deposited by water. The form a speleothem takes is determined by whether the water drips, flows, seeps, condenses, or pools.

Kartchner Caverns is home to:
* one of the world's longest soda straw stalactites: 21 feet 2 inches (Throne Room)
* the tallest and most massive column in Arizona, Kubla Khan: 58 feet tall(Throne Room)
* the world's most extensive formation of brushite moonmilk (Big Room)
* he first reported occurrence of “turnip” shields (Big Room)
* the first cave occurrence of “birdsnest” needle quartz formations
* many other unusual formations such as shields, totems, helictites, and rimstone dams.

The Discovery Center features museums exhibits, a large gift shop, regional displays, theater, and educational information about the caverns and the surrounding landscape. There are also campgrounds, hiking trails, lockers, shaded picnic areas, a deli, an amphitheater, and a hummingbird garden.

So worth going to see!


Scriptor Senex said...

Looks and sounds wonderful. it's nature brilliant?

Janice said...

Mmm... bird's nest soup... yum. With a side order of soda straw stalactite!

C Woods said...

Regarding your comment on 1/19/09 (One Minute Writer) that is an urban myth.

Flora & Fauna

Books I have known & loved

  • Life of Pi
  • A Hundred Years of Solitude
  • Kite Runner
  • The Way the Crow Flies
  • Fall on Your Knees
  • Poisonwood Bible
  • East of Eden
  • Shantaram
  • I Know This Much is True

Illegal Immigration