Natural Bridge Caverns: The Most Beautiful Caves in San Antonio

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

If you love caving and exploring ancient history, then seeing the San Antonio Caverns should be high on your list of things to see in San Antonio. It’s not the largest cave in the world or even in America, but it is absolutely worth seeing!

Also called the Natural Bridge Caverns, this site features one of the world’s 31 largest chambers. If you want to get away for the weekend and need something exciting for the whole family, this is it. These Caverns are one of the best attractions in San Antonio, and for good reason.

The caverns are in the natural limestone of the region with underground rivers, caves, undercut cliffs, and beautiful crystal formations. You can tour the cavern on your own or take a boat ride. If you have kids, they can fish in the lake or play in the playground area. There is even an adventurous obstacle course on a zip line! Read on to learn more about this beautiful caving site.

The Discovery of the Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio

On March 27, 1960, four students by the names of Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell Jr., Al Brandt, and Joe Cantu from St. Mary’s University in nearby San Antonio discovered the San Antonio Caverns while exploring them for the fourth time. They had previously been explored only about a mile into their total length.

Further explorations revealed a passageway extending for two miles, which came to be known as the “North Cavern.” After discovery, Orion Knox Jr. assisted the landowners in obtaining information and making decisions about their property’s development.

About The San Antonio Caverns

View of Discovery

The San Antonio Caverns, popularly known as the Natural Bridge Caverns, is the largest known commercial caverns in Texas. They are located about 30 minutes north of San Antonio, Texas, in the Hill Country, next to the Natural Bridge Wildlife Ranch.

The name is derived from a 60-foot natural limestone slab bridge that spans an amphitheater setting at the entrance of these underground passages. One can only imagine how spectacular this dramatic sight must have been before its collapse!

With their unique speleothems and other formations, these caverns offer a range of beautiful sights.

The temperature inside the cave is a constant 21 degrees Celsius (70°F), and the humidity level never drops below 99 percent.

The deepest part of the public tour is 180 feet down. However, there are areas that go 230 feet beneath ground level.

The caverns are still slowly developing because rainwater travels downward through the limestone layers, dissolving out calcite, a weak mineral that makes up all of Natural Bridge Caverns’ speleothems.

After exiting the limestone, water flows through and drips from cave ceilings in constant streams. This creates a shiny effect that visitors can easily see in some caves.

Brian Vauter, Cave Geologist at the Natural Bridge Caverns, shared that this cavern is called a living cave because “the cave formations are still being formed by water dissolving rock.”

Cavern Tours

Texas’ premier natural attraction is a vast underground landscape of immense, otherworldly beauty. Formed by single drops falling from above and the slow passage of time, these formations are unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

The first tour to open to the public in 1964 was Discovery Tour, which descends 180 feet below ground level but requires minimal exertion. The Castle of the White Giants contains the largest formations in caverns, including the white giants.

If you want a more “off the beaten track” experience, book an Adventure Tour. Each of these tours has a minimum number of two participants and is priced at $149.99 per person. Take a look at the tours packages:

Discovery Tour

The Discovery Tour is the more easygoing tour. Travel through half a mile of Texas’ largest, most spectacular show cavern. Listen to a knowledgeable tour guide as you explore the underground world 180 feet below ground level. For casual cavers, this is educational and interesting, while not putting much strain on the body.

You will see awe-inspiring, centuries-old formations such as impressive stalagmites and soda straws. Take pictures because this is one walk-through time that you won’t want to forget!

Ensure you wear comfortable walking shoes which provide good traction on wet surfaces and on steep slopes.

  • Departure Time: Every 10-40 minutes
  • Tour Duration: about 1 hour
  • Walking Distance: 3/4 mile (1.20 km)

Hidden Passages Tour

The Hidden Passages Tour is definitely for more experienced or adventurous cavers. Here, you will walk through substantial underground chambers decorated with the rarest and most delicate formations.

The Hidden Passages are decorated with unusually long ‘soda straw’ stalactites, waves of ‘cave ribbon,’ and more.

You must see Natural Bridge Cavern’s hidden areas to appreciate the splendor they contain. Tours leave every 30 minutes to 1 hour and take approximately 60 minutes.

This tour is recommended for the more adventurous types, as you may need to be more physically fit. Prepare to get dirty and wet. One user also mentioned that the tour guide let the group bask in the absolute darkness during this tour by switching off her flashlight. We hope you’re not afraid of the dark!

  • Departure Time: Every 30 minutes
  • Tour Duration: about 1 hr
  • Walking Distance: 1/3 mile (.53 km)

Twisted Trails

Natural Bridge Caverns’ twisted ropes course is great fun for the whole family. It provides a thrilling 60-foot climb to get everyone in on the action.

For younger visitors, the Tykes version of Twisted Trails offers a smaller, easier-to-navigate course that allows kids to try their hand at similar challenges without feeling overwhelmed.

And, you can show off your strength and climbing skills on the new multiple-climber-friendly walls. Climbers use their upper-body strength and fancy footwork to maneuver vertical structures like the Jungle Gym, Astroball, or Twister as they make their way up these challenges to see who will reach the top first.

You should dress comfortably and according to the weather. Open-heeled shoes, flip-flops, or sandals are not permitted. If your hair is shoulder long or longer, it is advisable that you tie it back.

Picture shows the massive Twisted Trails Rope and Obstacle course at Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio.

The AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup

Price: $11.99 or $5.99 online

Navigate the maze, and time yourself to see how well you did. There are 3 towers and a bridge that will help guide you through. There is no cheating, so be fair! Find checkpoints throughout the maze. Good luck!

You can challenge your friends to an exciting AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup round right between San Antonio and New Braunfels. It’s sure to become one of Texas’s favorite things!


The cost of tours varies by the day of the week and how far in advance you purchase tickets. Tickets for same-day tours are $28.25, whereas kids’ tickets start at $18.25.

The Twisted Trails Adventure Course Tickets are slightly cheaper online, and you can get more information about them here.

Summing it Up

Not even photos and videos can do justice to the experience you can have at the San Antonio Caverns. If you want to enjoy every aspect of this spectacular place, you need to go there yourself and check it out.

With provisions for everybody, you can go with friends, family, and even as a couples outing with your significant other. Ensure that you carry yourself some warm clothes because the weather at the caverns can be daunting. Bring shoes that provide good traction on wet surfaces and steep areas, and stay safe!

A Sign at Natural Bridge Caverns says "The Bear Pit", and features a 8,000 year-old Black Bear Jawbone.

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