Thursday, February 11, 2021

Texas caves worth a visit

Whether you’re feeling the cold of winter or the heat of summer, caves provide steady, comfortable temperatures year round. More than 3,000 caves are scattered throughout Texas including many “wild” or undeveloped caves.

But Texas has a variety of “show” caves, too. Here are four popular Central Texas caves that I encourage you to visit. Since COVID is still a factor, be sure to check availability of tours and any special requirements before heading out—or save this information to use in a couple of months post-pandemic.

Natural Bridge Caverns near New Braunfels, Texas
Natural Bridge Caverns 

Billed as Texas’s Largest Underground Adventure, Natural Bridge Caverns has been attracting visitors since it opened to the public in the 1960s.  During the  90-minute Discovery Tour visitors travel to a depth of 180 feet and walk along winding paths at a pleasant 72 degrees. See ancient formations that are still growing including stone monuments, colorful rocks, and glistening crystals. Since 2008 guides have led tours to a second cavern discovered at the site which features special lighting to showcase rare and delicate formations.

Ropes Challenge is fun for kids 
and adults.
For a day-long family excursion, check out the gardens, Canopy Ropes Challenge, four zip lines, and mining activities.  Located 30 minutes north of San Antonio near New Braunfels, Natural Bridge Caverns is open year round.

Inner Space Cavern  

Longhorn Cavern is near
Burnet and Inks Lake State Park.

Hidden for more than 10,000 years, Inner Space Cavern was discovered in 1963 during construction of the state’s first major highway. A drill suddenly broke through solid limestone and revealed an enormous cavern system directly below the intended path.  Located 20 miles north of Austin off I-35, it is one of the best preserved caves in Texas.

Today visitors walk 69 feet below ground to view a variety of dramatic geological formations in large, eerie caverns.  The Adventure Tour departs every 20 to 30 minutes, no reservation required. On the Hidden Passages Tour follow a guide to an undeveloped trail in a newly opened section —flashlight provided—or become a true spelunker on the Wild Cave Tour through undeveloped sections. Although humidity hovers around 98 percent, the constant 72 degree temperature makes the cave pleasant even on scorching days.

Longhorn Cavern  

Unlike other Texas caves, Longhorn was created by rivers surging through cracks and holes millions of years ago. Left behind are unusual rock formations, domed ceilings, sinkholes, sparkling crystals, and petroglyphs carved in rock.

Spectacular formations are hidden in 
these caves.

Fossils dating to the Ice Age have been discovered in this prehistoric place of shelter, and evidence suggests Comanche Indians inhabited the cave at least 400 years ago. The Confederate army used bat guano to secretly manufacture gunpowder during the Civil War, while popular legends claim outlaws used the cave for a hideout.

The walking tour covers 1.25 miles round trip and takes about 90 minutes. On the Wild Cave Tour you’ll crawl through tight spaces using a headlamp. Learn about unexplained happenings on the Paranormal Tour, or book up to three hours of photography time in the cave. Located in Longhorn Cavern State Park near Burnet, cave temperature holds at a cool 68 degrees.

Cave Without a Name

Located in the Texas Hill Country, 12 miles from Boerne, this beautiful cavern is filled with stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, cave drapery, and gorgeous flowstones. Tour six major rooms in 66-degree comfort. Easy walkways and brilliant lighting add to the unforgettable adventure in this living cavern.  Tours depart throughout the day and last about an hour, entering on a stairwell that spirals down the original sinkhole opening and ending beside a clear subterranean brook.

Cave Without a Name has great acoustics for live music performances.

Other notable Texas caves

Cascade Caverns, 14 miles northwest of San Antonio, the first show cave of Texas to be discovered.

Caverns of Sonora on I-10, halfway between San Antonio and Big Bend National Park, considered one of the world’s most beautiful caves.

Wonder World Cave, near San Marcos, the nation’s only true earthquake-formed cave.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier and free sources.





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