Phoenix, AZ – Kartchner Caverns State Park will hold “Bat Day” on Saturday, Apr. 13, 2013. “Bat Day” is a celebration of all things bat related, and the return of the Myotis velifer bat colony to Kartchner Caverns.
The event will include presentations in the theater by visiting bat experts plus children’s activities throughout the day including Ted Fleming: “The Columnar cactus-nectar bat connection” at 11 a.m., Sarah Kirk: “Bats of Arizona” at Noon, Yar Petryszyn, PhD: “Bat specimens from the University of Arizona Mammal Collection” at 1:30 p.m. and Ronnie Sidner, PhD: “Bats of Kartchner Caverns” at 2:30 p.m. Cave tours will also be available but should be reserved in advance.
During the summer months, the cave’s Big Room serves as a nursery for around 1,000 female cave myotis bats (scientific name Myotis velifer). Pregnant females return to Kartchner Caverns around the end of April, where they give birth to a single pup in late June. Arizona State Parks conducted several studies before development to see how the bats could be best protected. The results of the studies led Arizona State Parks to close the Big Room for tours while the bats are using it. The bat populations are monitored each summer to see that they remain stable.
There are two guided tours inside the cave at Kartchner Caverns. The Rotunda/Throne Room Tour is half of a mile in length and takes approximately an hour and a half to complete. The Big Room Tour is available from mid-October to mid-April. It is half of a mile long and takes an hour and 45 minutes to complete. Note: Big Room Tours are not available for children younger than 7 years of age.
The Discovery Center facility contains exhibits on cave formations, cave life, hydrology and history. In the Tenen-Tufts Theater, a video presentation (15 minutes long) plays twice an hour. The program highlights the discovery aspect of the cave. The Gift Shop offers a wide array of cave related and southwestern themed souvenirs, gifts and practical items to meet the needs of travelers. The Bat Cave Cafe is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for dining while at the Park. There are hiking trails for the beginner to advanced hiker and a large, modern campground adjacent to the Whetstone Mountains.
Reservations for camping or cave tours can be made 24-hours a day at AZStateParks.com or by calling (520) 586-2283 between 8am and 5pm (Mountain Standard Time) seven days per week. Reservations are highly recommended for all cave tours. Cave Tour tickets must be picked up AT LEAST 1 hour prior to your scheduled tour time. Kartchner Caverns State Park is located on Highway 90, nine miles south of I-10 near Benson, Arizona.
For information about all 27 Arizona State Parks, the Trails and Off-Highway Vehicle Programs and State Historic Preservation Office call (602) 542-4174 (outside of the Phoenix metro area call toll-free (800) 285-3703), visit the website and online camping reservations at AZStateParks.com, Twitter/Facebook AZStateParks.