Spelunking in Texas
The stars at night may shine big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, but venture below the prairie dust and you’ll find yourself in an ethereal underworld forever shrouded in darkness.
Texas has more than 3,000 caves, with some open for public tours throughout the year. Moderate fitness is required at most caves, as you’ll be climbing stairs and walking for more than an hour.
Easy Does It
Humid conditions and dark, enclosed spaces make some people feel extremely claustrophobic and panicky. Get a feel for spelunking on a guided tour in well-lit conditions, along smooth paths with plenty of headroom at Longhorn State Park in Burnett. The daily tour runs for 1 1/2 hours and visits unusual formations such as the Queens Watch Dog, carved out by water that formerly ran through the cave.
The Crystal City room sparkles with millions of calcite crystals and the Indian Council Room holds evidence of Comanches using the caverns over a century ago. The park also has a monthly paranormal tour, geology tours, wild cave tours and photography tours.
A Taste for Adventure
Move off the beaten path and investigate areas not seen by the average cave visitor with a wild cave tour. At Kickapoo Cavern State Park, explore the undeveloped cave on a strenuous quarter-mile hike. Wear sturdy hiking shoes and bring at least two sources of light and extra batteries for both.
Colorado Bend State Park’s wild cave tour involves climbing, crawling and shimmying through tight, muddy spaces to reach large chambers. Bring a second set of clothing to change into at tour’s end. The park is also home to Gorman Falls and 32 miles of multiuse trails with primitive campsites.
Something to Sing About
Make your winter holiday special with a Christmas caroling cavern tour at Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio. The experience takes place on the first three weekends of December. As you stroll from room to room along the North Cavern tour, choirs fill the air with festive song.
Towering soda straws, ribbons of stone and stalagmites and stalactites provide an otherworldly backdrop for a special holiday memory. The cave has tours throughout the year with two walking routes available, as well as wild cave tours. Be aware that the caverns have 99 percent relative humidity at a temperature of 70 degrees, which can negatively affect people with respiratory issues.
Go To Extremes
Grotto clubs found throughout the state offer the opportunity to join other caving enthusiasts to explore wild and lesser known caves. The Texas Speleological Survey maintains a list of grottos throughout the state where you can learn safe caving techniques and cave conservation and restoration.
Grottos visit caves not open to the general public and usually have equipment that includes cable ladders and ropes for use by its members.
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