December 12, 2020
Ocotillo Trail Hiking Series at Kartchner Caverns
Phone: (520) 586-4100
Time: 10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Admission: See website for admission options.
Get a taste of the Whetstone Mountains backcountry on a guided hike along the Ocotillo Trail at Kartchner Caverns State Park.
Join an experienced park ranger for a 3.2-mile hike over moderate terrain. Make sure to bring plenty of water, good hiking shoes, and to dress appropriately for the weather.
The Ocotillo Trail is 1.7-mile addition to the Foothills Loop Trail. The full loop encompasses both trail segments and is about 3.2 miles in total. The trail has a gentle yet steady elevation gain across rocky terrain until the halfway point on the trail. The trail offers sweeping views of the San Pedro River valley as well as the Dragoon mountains.
Throughout your hike, a multitude of ocotillo plants can be seen from the aptly-named trail. In spring, enjoy the reddish orange blossoms that grace the tops of these spiky desert plants. These blooms are a favorite of hummingbirds! Ocotillo only grow their bright green leaves when there is adequate moisture, they can drop and regrow their leaves several times a year to conserve moisture during times of drought. Other vegetation includes prickly pear, cholla, and barrel cactus, mesquite, whitethorn and catclaw acacia (wait-a-minute bush), brittlebush, ephedra (Mormon tea), century plants, shin dagger agave, desert spoon, bear grass, and yucca.
Park entry is $7/vehicle, no additional cost for the hike. Leashed dogs welcome. Hike may be cancelled due to weather, please check conditions before coming out.
About Kartchner Caverns State Park
In November 1974, Gary Tenen and Randy Tufts were exploring the limestone hills at the eastern base of the Whetstone Mountains. They were looking for a cave no one had ever found and found it. The two kept the cave a secret until February 1978 when they told the property owners, James and Lois Kartchner, about their awesome discovery. Since unprotected caves can be seriously damaged by unregulated use, they knew the cave had to be protected.
Tenen and Tufts spent several years looking into the possibility of developing the cave themselves. Some members of the Kartchner family lived in Tucson and were very impressed with the development and operation of Catalina State Park by Arizona State Parks. They decided to approach State Parks to see if the agency was interested in acquiring this outstanding resource.