Between San Antonio and New Braunfels is a large cave system, Natural Bridge Caverns. My parents, David, and I visited on a day trip from Gonzales, TX. We had ventured there after the big rains this last spring. Since the caves are part of our precious aquifer system (where we get most of our drinking water in Central Texas) the caves were unusually full of water. No one could escape being dripped on! Some of the normal trails were closed because they were under water, but that meant we got to see the caves through less traveled trails. It was awesome!!
The summer before, I had taken a group of 50 high school students on a college and cultural tour in West Texas and New Mexico. We visited the impressive Carlsbad Caverns. Now it is hard to even compare the two. Carlsbad is just massive and grand walking over a mile into the depths of the earth. So, I was afraid my experience at Natural Bridge caverns would be tainted. But it was the complete opposite! It was intimate and unique and has been a staple destination since the 1960’s.
In order to access the caves, you must join a guided tour, which was excellent. Our guide was knowledgeable, friendly, and good with kids. We took the traditional Discovery Tour, temporarily renamed the Aquifer Tour due to the few modifications in the path required by the high water. This option was a great way to view the caverns.
When entering the caverns, you walk under the natural bridge which the park was named after. This thin stone arch looks like it may break if you look at it too intensely. Although there are lots of ramps, there are also many stairs making it not accessible for wheelchairs and strollers.
Like I mentioned earlier, due to the rains, many of the traditional trails were underwater so we walked some less traveled trails which ended up being fantastic. There was one trail that was a narrow hallway, not too narrow though. But my favorite was a large room where a gorgeous ribbon chandelier hung from the ceiling. The water in the room was a deep aquamarine. I did not want to leave.
There are many tours and activities on the property. Some of them include:
Discovery Tour – Traditional cavern tour.
Lantern Tour – The first tour of the day at 9:00 AM. You experience the trails by lanterns like the first explorers.
Canopy Challenge Tour – Zip Lining.
AMAZEn’ Ranch Round Up – Maze.
Gem and Fossil Mining – Kids get to pan like gold for their fossils and gems.
Adventure Tour – Crawl, rappel and climb. No thank you. I’ll pass on that tour, I prefer to be upright on a cave tour, but for those who like that sort of thing, it looks great.
I’m not going to lie, it is a little pricey for my taste. I think it would be hard for a family to go which is discouraging to me. Check the website for prices, discounts and group rates, as well as a list of all the tours and activities available.
Next door is Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch where you drive your car through a safari. I have never been, but there were tons of cars and looked like a good time.