Downtown Austin

Downtown Austin

Dienstag, 25. September 2007

Natural Bridge Caverns

Heute ausnahmsweise einfach die Kopie aus meinem Travelblog und daher zur Abwechslung auch mal in English. Damit hier niemand nichts verpasst (und ich ein backup der Story habe).

I have relatives in town and what better way to show them something unique and maybe even spectacular in the area than the caverns near San Antonio. They were recommended to me a few times already and of course they are also mentioned in all the magazines that list must see attractions in Central Texas.

The caverns are located between San Antonio and New Braunfels about 8 miles West of I-35 at Exit #175. The route is FM 3009 and you really can't miss it. While the road turns sharp right the entrance with the big sign and another park (Wildlife Ranch) is straight ahead.

The caverns are named Natural Bridge Caverns because the entrance is beneath a natural bridge. Some long time ago water eroded the underground apparently creating a first cave just below the ground. As the water level dropped down, the surface collapsed and created a hole in the ground leaving behind an amazing 60-foot bridge made out of limestone. The tour guide urged us NOT to walk over the bridge because when it breaks they would have to change the name of the attraction. The bridge was discovered around 1900 and yes, the tour guide is quite funny and had a few more laughs for us.

In 1960 four college students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, obtained permission to explore the area. They were convinced that large underground passages existed under the limestone bridge. Only water was able to create such a whole in the ground and because water not just disappears it seemed to be very likely that there must be passages and probably some caves.

Over all they discovered a 2 miles underground world of natural beauty and amazement. Apparently the entry point beneath the bridge is almost in the middle of the whole system in a north to south direction. Because of that they offer different tours but I guess the North Cavern Tour has the most value. It takes about an hour and everyone able to take an hour hike should not have any problems. Mind you, you will walk 180 feet below the ground and the final is quite steep. I noticed a few people breathing heavily but everyone made it. Solid and comfortable walking shoes that provide good traction on wet surfaces are recommended. The walkway is paved all the way but humidity is 99% and dripping water everywhere. Well, what do you expect -- it's a cavern after all.

They placed lights all the way and you get a good look at everything -- it is quite breathtaking. You may take pictures inside the cavern but be warned; your camera's flash will not be able to enlighten the big chambers.

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