Kartchner Caverns State Park near Benson in southern Arizona is marking its 20th anniversary. Hundreds of people recently attended a ceremony for the occasion.
Attendees included former parks officials who helped develop Kartchner as a state park in the lengthy leadup to its dedication in 1999.
The decision included years of secrecy following the discovery of the caverns in 1974 by two cave-explorers who were concerned that publicity would lead to unregulated visitation that could result in damage to the underground formations that are thousands of years old and still growing. The secrecy ended in 1988 when the Arizona Legislature approved acquisition of the property. Development of the park amenities then took years of work.