Worlds Apart

recreation1The Hill Country offers activities that suit virtually every passion, interest, or curiosity. From tubing the Guadalupe River to world class golf, there is always something to do that can get you outdoors, experiencing something new and refreshing. As we move in to the cooler fall months, we’re taking a look at some of the Hill Country’s most unique caves. Not many people know that the Hill Country is home to a wide variety of caves, and many are home to massive collections of bats. So get out there this fall, explore one of our numerous caves, and enjoy a star-lit evening while you watch millions of bats spring forth to begin their nightly ritual.

CAVE WITHOUT A NAME
Found just northeast of Boerne, Cave Without a Name is a spectacular sight with plenty of Stalactites, Stalagmites, delicate Soda Straws, and more to see. Take a tour of the six major rooms in ease; 66 degrees no matter what time of year, fantastic lighting, and walk your boots-made-for-walkin’ boots all over smooth walkways! Tours take place throughout the day and last roughly 60 minutes.
(830) 537-4212
Memorial Day – Labor Day: 9am – 6pm
After Labor Day – Memorial Day:
10am – 5pm
www.cavewithoutaname.com

DEVIL’S SINKHOLE STATE NATURAL AREA BAT CAVE
The man of the hour, the Devil’s Sinkhole, is a National Natural Landmark that is home to one of Texas’s grandest Mexican free-tailed bat colonies.

Visitors are ensnared by emergence tours, nature hikes, morning bat-homecoming tours, and bat day tours to see the sinkhole.

Access to Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area is restricted to guide-led tours with required reservations. Visitors will find the Rocksprings Visitors Center located at the town’s square at 101 N. Sweeten Street in Rocksprings. All tours meet at the Visitors Center. Rocksprings is located at the junction of State Highway 55 and US Highway 377.
(830) 563-2342
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/devils-sinkhole

ECKERT JAMES RIVER BAT CAVE PRESERVE
Southwest of the town of Mason near State Highway 29 in Mason County lies the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve—one of the largest bat nurseries in the U.S. Nearly 4 million female bats inhabit the site May through September.

The preserve is open for tours from mid-May to early October. Tours are held from Thursday-Sunday, 6 p.m.- 9 p.m. Some sunrise tours of the bats coming back from night hunting are available, too.
(325) 347-5970
www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/northamerica/unitedstates/texas/placesweprotect/eckert-james-river-bat-cave-preserve.xml

FRIO BAT CAVE
Found near Concan, this cave is alleged to be the 2nd largest bat population in the world, and the largest open to the public! Tours are held in the late afternoon to late evening. The gate is 1/3 of a mile down FM 2690, first gate on the right after passing over the bridge over the Frio River, drive your vehicle 2 miles into the ranch. Walk up to the hilltop and watch the flock of bats take their flight.
Phone number is 888-502-9387.
www.friobatflight.com

GEORGETOWN – INNERSPACE CAVERN
Inner Space Cavern is located in Georgetown, Texas on the outskirts of the beautiful Texas Hill Country. The cave is convenient to IH-35 at exit 259 (Northbound or Southbound). With 3 tours to choose from, explore the limestone cavern and gander at nature’s masterpieces, such as “The Flowing Stone of Time,” the recondite “Lake of the Moon,” and the amazing “Soda Straw Balcony.”
www.myinnerspacecavern.com
(512) 931-CAVE (2283)
Fall Hours (September-November)
Monday – Friday 9:00am – 4:00pm,
Saturday 10:00am – 5:00pm,
Sunday 11:00am – 5:00pm

NEW BRAUNFELS’S WONDER WORLD PARK WONDER CAVE
Follow us into the Balcones Fault Line Cave, the single true earthquake cave open for viewing and an awakening to Mother Nature’s fury. Established in 1903, it is the first commercial Show Cave to open for public viewing in Texas. Prehistoric life framed in plenty of strata formations and huge, floating boulders are some of the obscure & spectacular sites the caves showcases.
(512) 392-3760
www.wonderworldpark.com

OLD TUNNEL STATE PARK
Visitors may hike, bird-watch, and check out the wildlife on the Old Tunnel nature trail, which is less than one-half mile in length and open to the public every day of the year. The ghostly, abandoned railroad tunnel that gives Old Tunnel its name houses approximately three million Brazilian free-tailed bats from May-October. Visitors may watch the flight of the bats 7 nights a week!
(866) 978-2287
www.tpwd.state.tx.us/state-parks/old-tunnel

NATURAL BRIDGE CAVERNS
Natural Bridge Caverns is so much more than one of the most treasured natural attractions Texas has to offer. This beautiful and historical cavern system offers an experience that is high energy, educational, fun and family-oriented. Whether you are a first timer, an avid caver or someone in between, Natural Bridge Caverns awaits with an experience you’ll never forget.

Pan for precious stones, take the ultimate leap of faith from the Canopy Challenge, go caving on one of the adventure tours or simply experience nature on the original Discovery Tour. Bring your family, your church group or your classroom. With so much to do, see and learn, once you’ve experienced Natural Bridge Caverns, we promise you’ll be coming back for more.
26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road
Natural Bridge Caverns, TX 78266
(210) 651-6101
www.naturalbridgecaverns.com

 

BAT FACTS
Bats are the only mammals able capable of flying. And you thought it was the winged marmoset! Bats are exceptional in the air. Their wings are thin, giving them what is called, in flight terms, “airfoil.” The power bats have to push forward is called “propulsion.”

A single brown bat can catch around 1,200 mosquito-size insects in one hour. In Bracken Cave, Texas, it’s estimated that the 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats that live there eat about 200 tons of insects . . . each night.

Vampire bats don’t suck blood. They lap it up. Calm down. There are only three species of vampire bats in the whole world. If you are traveling in Central or South America, however, you might see a vampire bat bite a cow and then lick blood from the wound — no sucking involved.

Fewer than 10 people in the last 50 years have contracted rabies from North American bats. Due to movies and television, bats are thought to be germ machines, bringing disease and toxins to innocent victims. Not true. Bats avoid people. If you are bitten by a bat, go to the doctor, but don’t start making funeral arrangements — you’ll probably be fine.

Bats make up a quarter of all mammals. Yep, you read that right. A quarter of all mammals are bats. There are more than 1,100 species of bats in the world. That’s a lot of bats!

An anticoagulant found in vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human cardiac patients. The same stuff that keeps blood flowing from vampire bats’ prey seems to keep blood flowing in human beings, too. Scientists in several countries are trying to copy the enzymes found in vampire bat saliva to treat heart conditions and stop the effects of strokes in humans.

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