The primary goal of the Arizona Cave Survey is to document all of the caves in the state of Arizona. We consider ourselves a library of Arizona cave information. The library consists of thousands of books, articles, cave maps, files, and photographs. The collection is a mixture of digital and hard-copy content. We also maintain a master digital database of caves, as well as an independent cave location GIS system.
Our group has also created a "Bibliography of Arizona Cave Publications," that is designed to help cave researchers find existing and out-of-print cave-related publications. The work of the Survey is an on-going project and grows in value as we collect more information over time.
We feel that the best way to protect the caves of Arizona is to document these unique resources. The more we know about them, the better we can make informed and thoughtful decisions on how to protect them.
With well over 1,000 caves and karst features documented in the state, Arizona is rich in speleological resources. From the large Lave Tubes of Northern Arizona, to the profusely decorated limestone caves of Southern Arizona, our state contains some of the most beautiful and scientifically important caves in the nation. And since Arizona has such a variety of localized climates, from arid deserts to lush mountain forests; we also have a high diversity of caves types.
Since much of Arizona is located in desert climates, many of our desert caves receive very little water input. This means that cave formations grow VERY slowly and are extra succeptable to impact from visitors. This is a big reason that many of our caves can handle only small amounts of visitation. Please tread thoughtfully and softly when visiting Arizona caves.
In 1977 cavers and other interested parties were able to write and inact a cave protection law to help protect Arizona caves from damage. And since many Arizona caves are archaeological sites, a later statute offers further protection to these unique resources. The statutes are 13-3702 and 13-3702.01 of the Arizona Criminal Code Title 13. Persons convicted under these statutes can be charged with fines up to $150,000! Click here to read the law. Suffice it to say it is not smart to dig in caves for pots, or to damage caves in any way.
Tread softly and practice "Leave No Trace" principles. Later generations will applaud your foresight, and the caves will continue to be the magical places that they are today.