Caverns and Caves in the Tucson Area

Arkenstone Cave (near Vail, AZ)

This cave is accessible only to scientists and researchers. This cave is located in the Colossal Cave Mountain Park. Arkenstone cave was discovered in the 1960s. It is a wet or living cave.

Colossal Cave (near Vail, AZ)

Colossal Cave, located in Colossal Cave Mountain Park, is open to visitors who may access the cave by paid guided tour. See information about tickets and tours, opens a new window or call 520-647-PARK (7275).

Colossal Cave had been used for centuries by prehistoric peoples when it was "discovered" in 1879. It is "dry" or "dormant.”

Kartchner Caverns State Park

"Kept secret since its discovery in 1974, Kartchner Caverns' existence was announced to the world in 1988. The massive limestone cave has 13,000 feet of passages, and two rooms as long as football fields."

The 550-acre park officially opened to the public Nov. 12, 1999. Kartchner Caverns is a wet or living cave.

One of the co-discoverers of Kartchner Caverns, Randy Tufts, died April 1, 2002. His obituary appeared in Tucson Citizen "Caverns' Finder Tufts Dies” April 2, 2002 Page B1.

See information about visiting Kartchner Caverns or call the Information Line: 520-586-4100. To make reservations call 520-586-2283.

La Tetera Cave (near Vail, AZ)

This cave, located inside Colossal Cave Mountain Park, is not open to the public and is accessible only to scientists and researchers.

La Tetera was discovered on January 24, 1996, when a Colossal Cave employee spotted a “6-foot plume of steam” in the park. Because the cave was discovered by steam coming out of a small hole, it was name “La Tetera” which is Spanish for teakettle. La Tetera is a wet, or living, cave like Kartchner. The cave is estimated to be about 10 million years old. The cave contains dinosaur bones as well as many unique formations.


"Beyond Colossal" Tucson Citizen.  March, 11, 2004. Page 1.

"County shut researchers out of two 'live' caves." Arizona Daily Star. January 31, 2007. Page 1.

Colossal Cave Mountain Park |

Kartchner Caverns State Park | Arizona State Parks |

Find the information you need by calling the Library's Infoline at 520-791-4010 or by sending your question to Ask a Librarian.