Category Archives: Sights

Tombstone’s rose tree in full bloom

Tombstone's famous rose tree

Tombstone's famous rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

The trunk of the rose tree

This rose tree covers over 8,000 square feet!

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AZ State Parks: Kartchner Caverns, Tombstone Courthouse face budget cuts

Last year I wrote a post about Kartchner Caverns that has been popular of late.

One of the reasons?

There is such a hullabaloo in Arizona right now on the state budget, and the state legislators are considering taking funds from the State Parks budget to fill the gap.

This has prompted lots of talk about closing parks that are in rural communities. It’s a shame, really, because these parks offer recreation, history, camping and so much more. Kartchner Caverns itself is such a treasure, but it could face closing on certain days of the week.

Tombstone Courthouse State Historic Park has goneĀ  from being open daily to opening only 5 days a week. It is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The economy and the state budget mess has not been kind to Arizona. Subsequently, our State Parks are nearly under siege. Funds seem to be fair game for whittling away the deficit our state lawmakers are facing (and have faced for months).

At any rate, the parks are among the highlights of Cochise County. Tombstone Courthouse has a courtroom that looks much the same as it did back in the late 1800s, and there are loads of exhibits that give you a sense of what life was like in Tombstone. I recommend a visit to the Tombstone Courthouse. It’s only a $4 entrance fee for now. Thier fees might go up to $5 soon, but it’d still be worth it!

If you haven’t been on one of Kartchner’s tours, I highly recommend you go. It is such a cool place! I went last year with my fiance and his daughter, and we had a great time! We also went to Tombstone, Fairbank ghost town (which is on BLM land next to the San Pedro River) and Sierra Vista that weekend.

You can book a tour at Kartchner by calling 520-586-2283. Find out more about the Tombstone Courthouse by visiting the Tombstone Courthouse website.

Other communities in Cochise County include Benson, Bisbee, Douglas, Sierra Vista, Tombstone and Willcox. Visit Cochise County’s Tourism website or click on any of the communities above for more information on things to do and where to stay.

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Kartchner Caverns

Formations in Kartchner Caverns. Photo (c) Arizona State Parks

The Strawberry Room, on Kartchner Caverns' Big Room tour. Photo (c) Arizona State Parks

Sunday’s Washington Post had an article on one of Cochise County’s great attractions, Kartchner Caverns in Benson. The writer expected to be bored, but the sights inside the two park’s tours really seemed to pique his imagination.

Caves are one of the unique wonders of this earth. We think of the ground as solid, but vast rooms can be lurking under foot. That’s what Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts found. The two spelunkers discovered the cave in 1974 and kept it a secret so they could help preserve it. Thanks to their efforts and that of the State Parks system, Kartchner Caverns is still a “living” cave. It is still being formed as rainwater seeps into the earth through the nooks and crannies of limestone below. As it trickles through the soil and rocks, minerals collect in the water in one area and are deposited in others, forming stalagmites, stalactites and “soda straws,” which are thin, hollow tubes of minerals. Incidentally, Kartchner Caverns has one of the world’s longest soda straw stalactites, measuring 21 feet 2 inches.

You can choose from two tours at Kartchner. The Big Room tour is open from mid October through mid April. In the summer, more than 1,000 bats use the caves for a nursery roost. Visit Kartchner Caverns’ website to learn more about the science behind the bats and the cave formation.

You can purchase tickets online. Some tickets are also available on a walk-in basis. Reservations are recommended especially during high season (spring and fall).


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Wordless Wednesday: desert shrine

Photo (c) Luanne Mattson

Photo (c) Luanne Mattson


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