is a small, quiet town on interstate 10 in Cochise County, 45 miles east of Tucson and 314 miles from the next major city further east, Las Cruces in New Mexico. The town was founded in 1880 as a stop along the Southern Pacific Railroad
, and the addition of two branch lines to the nearby copper, silver and gold mining centers of Tombstone and Bisbee meant it soon became a thriving community. Today Benson survives mainly on faming and tourism, as well as being a useful overnight stop for cross-country travelers on I-10, and has a population of around 4,000. It is reached by exits 303, 304 and 306 of I-10, and from the south by state routes 80 and 90.
The town has recently adopted the motto of 'Home of Kartchner Caverns State Park
', in reference to the newly discovered limestone caves a few miles to the south, which became a state park in 1999. The caverns are certainly spectacular but rather expensive to visit, with tours starting at $23. They are found on the east side of the Whetstone Mountains, within the Coronado National Forest, which has another unit southeast of Benson, enclosing the Dragoon Mountains, and another two to the north.
Temperatures in Benson are generally in the 90s in summer, when afternoon thunderstorms are common; July and August are the wettest months. May to September have all recorded highs over 100, and while December to February see below zero nights most of the time, winter highs are still usually in the 60s.
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