Benson: Gateway to the San Pedro Valley

Home to Kartchner Caverns State Park, Benson is the Gateway to the Region for those coming from Tucson and Phoenix. Kartchner Caverns is located in the Whetstone Mountains, and is regarded as one of the world’s most visually stunning caverns.

The Holy Trinity Monastery is a favorite among bird watchers because of its 1.3 mile-long bird sanctuary. A great way to experience the town is by taking the Benson Mural Tour, which features 42 murals throughout the town. America’s first peoples’ stories are told at the Amerind Museum through exhibitions from Alaska to South America and the last Ice Age to today.

Photo Credit: (top) Gary Smith, (bottom) Benson Visitor Center

Explore Benson and enjoy the community’s top attractions, from art and museums to a monastery, captivating caverns, and fun, train-related history.


The Amerind Museum exhibitions tell the story of America’s first peoples from Alaska to South America and from the last Ice Age to the present. At times, Amerind visitors will find Indian artists demonstrating their skills in the museum’s main gallery, and special events and openings are a periodic feature of the Amerind calendar.

The museum and art gallery are housed in Spanish Colonial Revival style buildings located in a pristine landscape among the wonderful rock formations of Texas Canyon. Many people come to Amerind to experience the native plants, birds, and solitude of the high desert. A secluded picnic area offers a quiet retreat amidst the massive granite boulders of Texas Canyon.


Visitors to the Benson Historical Museum will find a nice variety of items ranging from metates and manos to sewing machines and a horsedrawn school bus for their viewing pleasure.

The museum is staffed by volunteers. Members of the Historical Society will be glad to help you with research in the Benson area.


As good stewards of the land, ecology and environment are important to the Holy Trinity Center community. On the 132 acres, there is Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, living quarters, offices, library, museum, dining hall, Father Louis Hall, and conservatory, as well as guest houses for retreats.

The enclosed court yard around the church is a gardener’s delight with a rose garden, flowers, and plants of many varieties. The lovely fountain, surrounded by benches, gives visitors an opportunity to just sit and soak in the peace. Popular places to visit are the outdoor Stations of the Cross, Meditation Garden, Brother Cadfael Conservatory, Bird walk, Trinity bookstore, and gift shop.


You’ll find stunning living caverns and exhibits with scientific information explaining how these caves were formed. You can learn about the bats that make their home here, and how the many huge stalactites and and stalagmites are formed. And you will see why Kartchner Caverns is truly an underground phenomenon unlike any other.

Two tours are available: The Rotunda-Throne Room and the Big Room*. The Rotunda-Throne Room tour is available most of the year. Allow 4 hours.

*The Big Room is only available from mid October to mid April. It serves as a nursery roost for bats during the summer months.


The Benson Clean and Beautiful Committee has coordinated the painting of historic murals on walls around Benson for years. Commissioned artist Doug Quarles paints everything from kachinas to cowboys, stage coaches to round-ups, deer, bear, roadrunners, and even dogs, plus vintage cars, trains, and medical personnel.

You never know what’s going to be on the next corner – literally. With 42 murals already completed and another eight commissioned, the mural walk project is growing in leaps and bounds, and showcasing the history, people, and wildlife of Benson as it develops. Grab a mural map at the Quarles Art Gallery and tour the town, while searching for each one.


Benson hosts a beautiful replica of the original train depot – built over a century ago. It is now home to the Visitor’s Center.

There you can sit down as Engineer at the replica AAR Control Stand and operate the Center’s “G” Scale train around 96 feet of track. And, with the camera mounted on the front of the locomotive you actually feel like you are operating a real locomotive. You can even earn a souvenir Benson Train Engineer Certificate!


Benson was founded in 1880 when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through Southern Arizona. The town is named for Judge William Benson, a supporter of the railroad’s president. Today, you can journey on the Sunset Limited from Benson to Los Angeles…if you decide to leave the charming town of Benson.

Grab a bite to eat at the historic Horseshoe Café. Since 1936, this quaint restaurant has greeted visitors along the main Benson drag. You will enjoy stories of mysterious shadows and voice inside the cafe, friendly service, and hearty meals.

Tour the town, through the walking mural tour. With 42 murals throughout, and eight more in the works, Benson Clean and Beautiful has helped capture the essence of Benson’s history, wildlife, and community.

The town’s top attraction is Kartchner Caverns State Park. This live cave’s incredible formations continue to grow thanks to water seepage from the surface. The underground landscape has an average temperature of 72° Fahrenheit year-round. Reservations are necessary to tour the cave.

Photo Credit: Amanda Baillie


Looking for more information on Benson? Check out the resources below.


1 The Benson Visitor Center is a great starting point to learn about all of the area attractions. Visit
2 Visit the City of Benson website for information on city services, departments, economic development opportunities, and more. Visit


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