If you have family coming into town for Thanksgiving or even if you live in the Central Texas area, a fun place to take everyone on an outing is to one of Central Texas numerous public caves.
Here are the top four caves you should see.
1. Longhorn Caverns State Park - There are a handful of things to do while at Longhorn Caverns State Park, visiting their large cavern, which is their main attraction, will be the most enjoyable. This cavern was created from thousands of years of dissolving and cutting action of water on the limestone bedrock of the area. In the cave you will see fossil remains showing how the Ice Age animals once occupied the cave. Experience Crystal City, an area of the cavern that is adorned with calcite crystals formed by standing pools of calcium-saturated water. There is also the Queen's Watch Dog.
The cave's history dates back to being a cavern the Comanche Indians used 400 years ago. It was then used as a Confederate stronghold where gunpowder was manufactured in secret during the Civil War.
There are guided tours every day of the week into the cavern, each last about an hour and twenty five minutes. Guides will talk to you about the cavern's historic and geological history.
1. Longhorn Cavern State Park is located 6 miles west and 6 miles south of Burnet on Park Road 4 off US Highway 281. Facilities include a gift shop, deli, snack counter, picnic area, and hiking trails. Longhorn Cavern State Park is open 7 days per week, year around except Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and during Public Hunts.
2. Inner Space Cavern - This cave is located north of Austin in Georgetown, Texas and reveals relics from the Ice Age such as the bones of a Saber Toothed Tiger, Mammoths and other Ice Age animals.
The cavern was discovered in 1963 by highway work crews who drilled through 40 feet of solid limestone to discover it. Besides the Ice Age animal fossils the cave has the most intricate stalactite and stalagmite formations in the state. This cave is thought to be more than 80,000 years in the making and could be Texas' most newly discovered and accessible caverns.
Inner Space Cavern offers three tours ranging in prices from 17.95 to $100 for adults and $9.95 to $11.95 for kids. The Wild Cave Tour may be the most expensive package at $100 for ages 13 & up. Hours of operation are: Sept through May - Weekdays 9 a.m.-4 p.m., Weekends 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; June through August - Weekdays & Saturday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Inner Space Cavern is closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas day.
3. Cascade Caverns - These caverns are located outside of San Antonio. The caverns stay 68 degrees year around and have a 100 foot underground waterfall. The Caverns were discovered by the Lipan Apache in the 1700s. Various homesteaders used the cave in the 1800s and early 1900s. You can take the guided one-hour tour through the corridor and see unusual formations as well as unusual animals - like the Leopard Frog, Eastern Pipistrelle Bat and Cascade Cavern Salamander
Summer hours are 9 a.m.-6 p.m. weekends, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays. Winter hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. weekends, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. Admission is $11 for adults, $7 for children ages 5-11. Group rates are available. Picnic and camp fees are additional. For more information, visit the Cascade Caverns website at the link below.
4. Natural Bridge Caverns - Natural Bridge is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Texas. There are several tours offered here as well as an onsite 'mining company', watch tower, zip-line and more.
Natural Bridge Caverns Visitor Information:
Natural Bridge opens every day at 9 a.m. Closing times range from 4 - 7 p.m. based on the time of year. Tour prices range from $9.95 to $99.95 depending on age and tour type. Watch tower climbs are $6.95. Zip line rides are $8.95.