Brian Greenstone

The Greenstone Guide to Austin & The Hil Country



Central Texas is littered with caves, both big and small. Most people are familiar with the traditional walking tour caves such as Natural Bridge Caverns in New Braunfels, but "Caving" generally refers to the sport of wild caving where there are no paved paths or handrails. It involves a lot of crawling around and climbing. Whether you prefer walking tours or wild caving tours, Texas has them all:

Cascade Caverns

I wasn't too impressed with this cave - very small and not a whole lot to see, so I can't really say it was worth the trip out there.

Cave Without A Name

A really nice, but small show-cave in Boerne. Well worth the trip.

Caverns of Sonora

This is deemed by many experts to be the prettiest show-cave in Texas. Spectacular formations everywhere! They also offer an expensive $125 "Discovery Challenge" wild cave tour. I've never done their wild cave tour, but I'm told that it is 4 hours and involves crawling and a 143ft. repel.

Cave Tours at Colorado Bend State Park

This awesome state park has both walking cave tours and crawling wild cave tours. Do the wild cave tour! This is a really fun one here! Check the TPWD calendar for the latest cave tour schedule and fees.

Longhorn Caverns State Park

This State Park does a really good Wild Cave Tour which is fairly easy. It costs $35 per person and you get a free t-shirt. Well worth it! They also have the regular walking tour of the cave which is very good as well.

Natural Bridge Caverns

The walking tour of this exquisite show cave is spectacular, but go during the week or early in the morning so that you're not doing the tour with 40 of your closest friends. The tour sucks when you're stuck with a big group. They also have a Wild Cave tour, but that tour is kinda lame, especially for $100. Their "drop-in" tour basically just means you're paying an extra $25 to be lowered thru a hold on a winch. This cave is absolutly gorgeous, but it's just not all that fun for a wild cave since it is extremely short and there are no squeezes or crawls. It's basically just walking around a big cave with the lights out. The Wild Cave tour at Longhorn Cavern is better, costs 1/3rd as much, and you get a free t-shirt, so go do that one.


Now if you're looking for a more local adventure then you should consider hooking up with the UT Grotto. This is the local caving club, and they offer training courses for caving and do lots of outings. One other excellent option is to take the Caving Class through UT's Informal Classes. This class is how I first got interested in caving. You'll get to go thru several of Austin's local caves.

The locations of the local caves here in Austin are generally a well-kept secret since vandalism is a problem. Most of the caves have grates with locks on them, so it's impossible to get in even if you know where they are. That's why you'd need to hook up with the Grotto or take the Informal Class.


Whirlpool Cave

Natural Bridge Caverns - Drop In Tour

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