The Natural Bridge Caverns offer underground tours of caverns and caves in San Antonio, Texas. The very popular Discovery Tour takes visitors through the first half-mile of upwards of 2 miles of underground caverns. Guides walk visitors past stalactites, stalagmites, and other natural features of the caverns at depths of up to 180 feet underground.
The Hidden Passages tour takes guests into caves to experience true darkness and to see the long “soda straw” stalactites that decorate the caves. Lantern Tours take place each day at 9:00am only. Visitors are given a lantern and use this light to navigate through the underground passages in the dark. Physically fit guests will enjoy the Adventure Tours, where visitors climb, hike, and rappel inside the caves, exploring the same way they would have in the 1960s before lights, pathways, and handrails were installed. Adventure Tours last 3-4 hours, and showers and locker room facilities are provided. Above ground, Natural Bridge Caverns offers several adventure activities. The Canopy Challenge features a zip line and a 60-foot-tall ropes course, offering 47 different obstacles and challenges. A kid’s course is specifically designed for toddlers and young children. The AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup is a unique maze suitable for all ages. Participants are challenged to find their way through and may utilize a bridge and three towers for a bird’s eye view to aid them in finding their way. The Discovery Village Mining Company offers young children a simulation of mining for gold. Visitors pour bags of mining “rough” into their screened trays in a trough of water, and then sift through to find their gems. Visitors to the cave should be advised that it is indeed a damp area, and water continues to drip from the ceilings of this “living” cavern. A change of clothes is recommended. The caves remain at a steady 70°F all year round.
History: During the Cretaceous Period, millions of years ago, this area of Texas was covered by a warm ocean, and evidence of many of the sea organisms from that time can be found in the caves. These remnants compacted over time and formed the limestone sediments that visitors walk through today. Approximately 20 million years ago, cracks began to form in the rocks as a number of faults occurred in the area. Water flowing underground through these cracks gradually dissolved the limestone rock and carved out the caverns.
In 1960, four college students from St Mary’s University in San Antonio set out to explore the area. They had a hunch that there would be natural caverns beneath the 60-foot limestone slab that was visible at the surface. Finally, on their fourth expedition, they felt cool air coming from an underground passageway blocked by rubble. With permission from the landowner, they removed the debris and explored 2 miles of the underground caves and passageways. Subsequently, the landowners decided to develop the first half-mile of the caverns, and the Discovery Tour was born. Natural Bridge Caverns is one of the most extensive cavern systems in the state of Texas. The caverns are listed in the National Register of Historic Places for their role in preserving the history of cultural artifacts found there, which date back 10,000 years. Items found in the caves have included stone tools for digging and cooking as well as a prehistoric hearth and the charred remains of plant material.
Ongoing Programs and Education: All tours of the caves and caverns are guided by a knowledgeable expert, who describes the geology of the caverns, how they were formed, and some of the archeological artifacts that have been found there. Private group tours may be arranged for birthdays, church and scouting groups, or others. Christmas at the Caverns decorates the entire park with holiday lighting. Hayrides are offered and caroling takes place each evening in the underground chambers.
What’s Nearby: The Bracken Bat Flight is a tour of the world’s largest bat colony, just a few miles from the Natural Bridge Caverns. Guest arrive at dusk to see the exodus of the millions of free-tailed bats as they depart the cave in search of food each evening. These bat tours are paired with either a tour of the caverns or a canopy challenge.
26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX 78266, Phone: 210-651-6144