1201 Colorado Park Road, Bend, TX 76824.
West of Lampasas, southeast of San Saba. US Highways 281 and 183 intersection in Lampasas, take FM 580 west 38 km to Bend, follow the signs 7 km to the park entrance.
All year daily 6-22.
Closed during public hunts.
Online booking required for all guided tours.
Adults USD 5, Children (0-12) free.
Discovery Tour: Adults USD 12.
Adventure Tour: Adults USD 25.
|Classification:||Karst cave Karst Spring Tufa Deposits|
Adventure Tour: D=1.5 h, MinAge=8.
Discovery Tour: D=45 min, MinAge=4.
|Address:||Colorado Bend State Park, Box 118, Bend, TX 76824, Tel: +1-325-628-3240. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1984||park site purchased partly.|
|1987||the rest purchased.|
|1987||park opened to the public.|
Colorado Bend State Park is located at the former sites of the Gorman and Lemons Ranches north of Lake Buchanan. It was probably named after the location of the park headquarters, in the middle of a long left bend of the Colorado River. The park offers wild cave tours, both guided and self-guided. All caves in the park are closed except for the two tours. The tours are operated by the Nichols Outdoor Adventures, online booking on the park website is mandatory.
The Discovery Tour visits Dynamite Cave, which is rather large. There are some spots which require stooping but no crawling. This cave is in a natural state and not developed, helmets are provided. Bring sturdy shoes, torch or headlamp. At the time of our last review  this tour was temporarily closed due to a family of vultures which lives in the cave entrance. They will soon grow up and fly away, but this makes clear that it is mandatory to check the website before planning a visit.
Adventure Tour is a caving tour, this cave is rather narrow, with tight crawl spaces, definitely not for people with claustrophobia. Bring full caving equipment: old clothes, clothes for change, sturdy boots or rubber boots, elbow and knee pads, and gloves. Long pants and long sleeves are essential. Helmet, headlamp, and knee pads are provided, but you may bring your own.
But the park offers several additional karst features, which are less strenuous to visit. For example, there is Gorman Falls, a series of rimstone pools, travertine deposits and waterfalls building their own bed of limestone. The main waterfall is some 20 m high. It is found where Gorman Creek meets the Colorado River. From the park entrance follow the main road for 500 m, then turn left to the Gorman Falls Trail Head. The trail is 2.4 km long, which means a one-hour walk to the end and back.
A similar site are the dozens of rimstone pools along Spicewood Springs Creek. This is a tributary to the Colorado River and meets the colorado 1.5 km upstream from the Park Headquarters, and 1 km from the end of the road. Here is the Colorado Bend State Park Swimming Hole a naturally dammed pool only a few meters from the Colorado. It is the start of the Spicewood Springs Trail, which follows the creek. On the pleasant walk, numerous rimstone pools, tufa formations, waterfalls, and deep blue or green pools can be seen. The upper half of the canyon is less interesting, and it is not part of the Park, so the trail turns north to the park road and does not reach the karst sping Sicewood Springs, despite its name.
There have been numerous changes to the park policy in the last years, and not all of them to the better. There was once the possibility to make a self-guided crawling tour into one of the caves, but this was abandoned. The tufa deposits at Spicewood Springs Creek and Gorman Falls were only accessible on guided walks, in order to protect the fragile ecosystem. On the other side, it was allowed to swim in the rimstone pools. Now it is possible to do the hike self-guided. We were a little irritated then, and are irritated again, as they abandoned the rather exceptional rules without any comment. We have no idea if they realized how futile they were, or if this is a result of the pandemic. Our best guess is that they improved the trails and so it is now possible to do the hike without any damage by staying on the trail.