Natural Bridge Caverns
History and Discovery
In March of 1960, Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell, Al Brandt and Joe Cantu, four college students from St. Mary's University in San Antonio, obtained permission to explore the area that is now Natural Bridge Caverns. The students were convinced that large underground passages existed under the amazing 60-foot limestone bridge. On their fourth expedition, Orion felt a cool draft from a rubble-filled crawlway. Such air currents often indicate the presence of additional rooms or passages.
The explorers made their way carefully climbing and crawling through two miles of vast cavern passage. After making this amazing discovery, they returned to the surface to tell the landowners. The discoverers knew immediately what an astonishing find they had made and the land owners decided to develop the first 1/2 mile, the most spectacular part of the caverns, for the enjoyment of guests from around the world. That first 1/2 mile is now the Discovery Tour. Natural Bridge Caverns Discovery Tour was developed with two main goals in mind: preservation of the cavern environment and comfort of its guests. The result is one of the world premier show caverns, and one of the most popular attractions in Texas.
If this is the first cave you have planned to see, it is probably safe to say that you will have a fulfilling experience that will be remembered for a lifetime. There are giant caverns with large columns and some beautiful pools of water, with a few unique cave features to see on the "discovery tour". However, I felt slightly underwhelmed by what I saw, in ratio with the price I paid. It was $22 for one adult on the most basic tour, and they charge another chunk for the full tour, amongst the offers to do other attractions that are in no way related to caves.In the cave they bring to your attention you can donate money to help bats, then shortly after they take your photo and give you the option to buy prints of it when you exit for up to $25. With that being said, personally, I feel had more of a touristy feeling where they're trying to nickel and dime you at every opportunity, instead of being exposed to nature in it's most raw form.
I went to the caverns on my birthday with my family a year or so ago. It was a lot of fun! It was in the middle of summer so being in a cool cavern was a nice break from the heat. Make sure you bring a light jacket and good walking shoes! There is a lot of walking and steps. I have been to these caverns twice now and each time, I have enjoyed my experience. Definitely recommend.
If you can avoid the sometimes long wait times, the caverns themselves are really cool. Even if you are claustrophobic, you can handle this cave as there are very few spots that are remotely tight fits. Most of the tour is in large cavernous rooms, and the scenery is simply amazing. The regularly spaced tour guides really add to the experience by giving information and historical data about the cave. Well worth the money for a few hours doing something completely different.
This place is magical. We were lucky enough to go on both their Discovery and Hidden Passages tours on the same day. It was an experience we will never forget. There is quite a bit of walking and stair climbing so these tours aren't for those who can't handle some physical exertion.
Visiting the Caverns is a MUST-DO at least once-in-a-lifetime experience! Be prepared for a WORKOUT! The ascension is ROUGH on the cardiovascular system if you're not physically fit, BUT they encourage the visitors to take their time, stop, and rest. Oh! AND DON'T TOUCH THE CAVERN WALLS...IT'S A FELONY IF YOU GET CAUGHT! (Truth) I enjoyed the visit IMMENSELY! Thank you to the tour guide for making the trip pleasurable!