Benson is the kind of sweet, backroads destination you initially stumble upon – and then angle for ways to return to again and again.
Benson was founded when the Southern Pacific Railroad came through Southern Arizona in 1880; it’s named for Judge William Benson, a crony of the railroad’s president who spent many years in the mining towns of the region. Today, you can journey on the Sunset Limited from Benson to Los Angeles. But really, you’re not gonna want to leave this little burg.
The town’s top attraction is Kartchner Caverns State Park. This limestone cave is “live,” meaning its icicle-like formations continue to grow thanks to water seepage from the surface. This underground landscape is cool – literally – with an average temperature of 72° Fahrenheit year-round. Reservations are necessary to tour the cave.
Back above ground is the most extraordinary place to browse and buy books and it’s smack in the middle of a working cattle ranch. The Singing Wind Bookshop is a true Arizona original, in business since 1974. The shop is beloved as “the headquarters for books about the Southwest.” You can while away hours here; and you’re welcome to pack a picnic lunch to enjoy the jaw-dropping, 360-degree views.
If Kartchner offers geologic discovery, Holy Trinity Monastery offers spiritual delight. The lovely grounds of this Benedictine monastery are open to visitors of all faiths. First you’ll encounter a towering Celtic cross; amble a bit and you’ll enjoy an enclosed courtyard garden, pecan trees, and a nun-run RV park. Whatever you do, don’t miss the bookstore for its wonderful, fresh-baked bread. That’d be a sin.Visit City Site
Benson Visitor Center | 249 E. 4th St. | Benson, AZ www.bensonvisitorcenter.com/
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