Natural Bridge Caverns


Useful Information

photography
The entrance of Natural Bridge Caverns with the natural bridge.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer
photography
Speleothems.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer
Location: 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio.
I 35 from San Antonio NE, exit 175, between San Antonio and New Braunfels. FM 3009 Natural Bridge Caverns Rd.
(29.692594, -98.343158)
Open: JAN to MAY daily 9-16.
JUN to mid-JUN daily 9-17.
Mid-JUN to mid-AUG daily 9-19.
Mid-AUG to DEC daily 9-16.
Hours may be longer on spring and autumn Holidays and weekends.
Closed Easter, Thanksgiving, 25-DEC, 01-DEC.
[2023]
Fee: Discovery Tour: Adults USD 30.50, Children (3-11) 19.75.
Hidden Passages Tour Adults USD 30.50, Children (3-11) 19.75.
Combo: Adults USD 53.50, Children (3-11) 34.75.
St. Mary’s Adventure Tour: Adults USD 129.99.
Discovery Adventure Tour: Adults USD 169.99.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave KarstCollapsed Cave Geologynatural bridge.
Light: LightLED Lighting
Dimension: T=21 °C, H=99 %, L=5,874 m.
Guided tours: Discovery Tour: L=1.2 km, D=60 min, VR=55 m.
Hidden Passages Tour: L=530 m, D=60 min, VR=55 m.
St. Mary’s Adventure Tour: D=2-3 h, Max=6.
Discovery Adventure Tour: D=4 h, Max=6.
V=250,000/a [2007]
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:
Address: Natural Bridge Caverns, 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX 78266, Tel. +1-210-651-6101, 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.

History

27-MAR-1960 discovered by four St. Mary's University students.
25-MAR-1962 development started.
03-JUL-1964 opened to the public and inauguration.
1967 second cave discovered by drilling.
1968 South Cave discovered by drilling.
1971 registered as United States natural landmark.
2003 excavation by Archaeologists from the University of Texas at San Antonio.
2022 St. Mary’s Adventure Tour started.

Description

photography
An impressive pillar.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer
photography
More pillars.
Photographer: Knut Brenndörfer

Natural Bridge Caverns got its name from the Geologynatural bridge near the entrance. This whole area originally was part of the cavern, until about 5,000 years ago most of the roof collapsed. Today the collapsed cave looks like a valley and the last remains of the ceiling forms the natural bridge across this valley.

Inside the cave, mostly in the first chamber, the remains of 46 different vertebrates were found. The 8.000-year-old jawbone of a black bear was the most impressive. A nice formation are the Fried Egg Stalagmites, a yellow center is surrounded by a white ring and makes the top of the stalagmite look like a fried egg. The biggest chamber of the cave is 100 m long, 33 m wide and 33 m high. It is said to be the biggest chamber in Texas, and it is called Hall of the Mountains King.

Since the discovery, numerous additional passages have been found in the cave. A search for new caverns included drilling a series of shafts around the cave. So another cave was discovered nearby, South Cavern. There is a natural cave opening 1.1 km to the southwest of the cave entrance, where bat flight may be observed during dusk or dawn.

The cave Administration offers cave trekking tours into South Caverns called Discovery Adventure Tour. Visitors are lowered into a shaft with 71 cm diameter. The shaft ends at the ceiling of an 8 m high chamber. The cave trekking tours take three hours. All caving gear is provided, this means overall, helmet, miners lamp. Shoes are not provided, so bring rubber boots or boots, we also recommend a pair of gloves. Bring towel and clothes to change afterwards.

The cave is owned by the Wuest family, the current owner Brad Wuest is show cave operator in the third generation. He is also caver and explores new passages with a team of cavers, which also includes his brother Travis Wuest. During the last four years they have discovered and explored about 1.6 km of new passages. As a result a new tour is offered since 2022. It is named St. Mary’s Adventure Tour in honor of the four St. Mary’s University students who first explored the caves in 1960. This tour is an introduction to caving, less difficult than the other tour, but a real caving tour with crawls, just without vertical parts.