Longhorn Caverns


Useful Information

photography
The entrance area of Longhorn Caverns.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer
photography
Some calcite speleothems.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer.
Location: 15 km south west of Burnet, Texas. Hwy. 281 north from San Antonio or south from Dallas to Park Road 4. 10 km on Park Road to the Park Headquarters.
(30.684722, -98.350833)
Open: Park:
Mid-MAY to mid-SEP daily 9-18.
Mid-SEP to mid-MAY daily 9-17.
Cave:
All year daily 10-16.
Tours Mon-Fri on the hour, Sat every half hours, Sun, Hol every 15 minutes.
Wild cave tour: Sat 9:30, reservation required!
[2020]
Fee: Park: free.
Cave:
Adults USD 18, Children (4-11) USD 14, Children (0-3) free.
Groups (20+):
SEP to MAY Adults USD 11, Children (6-18) USD 8.
JUN to AUG Adults USD 14, Children (6-18) USD 11.
Wild Cave Tour: Per Person (8+) USD 65.
Groups and Wild Cave Tours must be booked 7 days in advance.
[2020]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,000m
Guided tours: D=90 min, L=1,770 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Longhorn Cavern State Park, 6211 Park Road 4 South, Burnet TX 78611, Tel: +1-512-715-9000.
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.

History

1840's discovered by the white man, when he arrived in this area.
1861-1865 during Civil War gunpowder was manufactured and stored in this cave.
1870's outlaws like Sam Bass used the cave as hideout.
1920's site of a night club/dance hall and a speakeasy.
1932-1937 ground acquired from private owners.
NOV-1933 dedicated as Longhorn Cavern State Park and cave renamed Longhorn Cavern.
1938 opened to the public.
1971 designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark.
1989 park administration building listed as a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.
07-FEB-2011 designated a U.S. Historic district.
2006 Simple Sounds concert series introduced by Steven Kurtz.
2012 new electric light installed.
2019 used as a filming location for the YouTube interactive series A Heist with Markiplier.

Description

photography
Erosive forms, a result of the origin as a river cave.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer.
photography
A gorge like passage formed by the water.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer.

Longhorn Caverns was formed as a river cavern, which explains its typical character. The cave has very little formations but shows the impressive results of running water. Huge rounded forms like kolks and scours. The river was a result of the high humidity during the last cold age. When it ended 10,000 years ago the area became semi-arid and the river vanished. Still the cave was flooded now and then by flood events, which created thick layers of sediment.

The cave was used by man since prehistoric times, which was shown by archaeological excavations. While the indigenous natives knew about the cave, the white man discovered the cave in the 1840s when he arrived in this area. It was named Sherrard's Cave, but it is lost in time who this Sherrard was, most likely either the discoverer or the owner of the land. During Civil War the cave was used to manufacture and store gunpowder. Later it was a hideout for outlaws. Among the legends is one, that the outlaw Sam Bass hid a $2 million cache of stolen money inside. Legend also says, Texas Rangers rescued a kidnapped girl from Indians in the cave.

During the prohibition years in the 1920s the cavern was used as a speakeasy. It became quite popular and had life musicians and dance events.

The transformation into a State Park started in 1931 when the State of Texas purchased the ranch with the cavern. It was necessary to buy all the surrounding land for the park which took five years. At the same time Company 854 of the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed Texas Park Road 4 which made the cave accessible by car. Also residences, pavilions and an observation tower in the National Park Service Rustic architectural style were erected. The cave was developed, tons of of cave sediments removed, walkways and staircases built. The cave was opened to the public in 1937.

It was operated as a State owned show cave for decades, but it seems sometime in the 1990s the situation became lackadaisical. The tours by rangers were outsourced to a company. Unfortunately they were not interested to invest any money into the infrastructure and the situation still left a lot of room for improvement.

It seems the situation changed around 2006 with Steven Kurtz, curator of Longhorn Cavern State Park. He introduced the Simple Sounds concert series and offered chamber music in the cave. It was quite popular and featured in an episode of Texas Country Reporter with Kaye Barlow as the travel guide. In 2008 country music and dance came back to the cave with the local Burnet County band Redneck Jedi. Fantastic Fest hosted an after party for the premiere of the movie City of Ember. The State Park was dedicated a U.S. Historic district, got a new light system, and finally became a filming location for a YouTube interactive series.