Journal of Cave and Karst Studies - ISSN 1090-6924
Volume 61 Number 2: 44-48 - August 1999

A publication of the National Speleological Society

Discovery and History of Kartchner Caverns, Arizona
Randy Tufts and Gary Tenen


Efforts to give Kartchner Caverns protective park status required over 13 years to complete following the cave’s discovery by Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts in 1974. These efforts involved the discoverers, selected cavers, the Kartchner family, the Nature Conservancy, and the Arizona State government—especially Arizona State Parks. Throughout that period, the cave and the efforts to conserve it were kept secret from the wider caving community and the public. Once in State Parks hands, extensive baseline testing was conducted before development began to help ensure that the cave environment is preserved. Cave environmental and show-cave experts have been involved in development planning and implementation. Surface facilities and a major part of the cave are set to open to the public in late 1999. The continuing support of cavers, the public, and Arizona government will be necessary to ensure that Kartchner Caverns is preserved in excellent condition.

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