Located in the beautiful rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country, Longhorn Caverns provides visitors a rather unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty of caverns whose story is intertwined with Texas history. Daily tours are offered, but special themed tours and concerts also take place for those that want an extra special experience.
Unique Cave Formation
While Caverns form in a variety of ways, the most common way is gradual dissolution of limestone. Dissolving limestone did contribute to the formation of these caverns, and visitors will see a few stalactites and stalagmites formed by the slow dripping of dissolved limestone that are signature features in many caverns. However, Longhorn Caverns is unique in that it was also formed simultaneously by the cutting action of water. An ancient underground river flowed through the limestone bedrock, forming beautiful, curvaceous chambers of smooth rock that are distinctive amongst caves.
The Human History Interwoven with Nature
Longhorn Cavern’s history, for better or worse, has been closely intertwined with human history and has played an important role in several defining moments in Texas and U.S. history. The first humans to use the caverns were Comanche Indians, possibly for shelter and for making tools out of the flint that was in ready abundance in the area. The Native Americans were driven out during the 1860’s during the Civil War, when the caves were then used by the Confederate Army to secretly manufacture gunpowder.
Once the Civil War concluded, the Indians and Old West outlaws utilized Longhorn Caverns as shelter. The most well known bandit to seek shelter at the caves was probably Sam Bass, the infamous train robber and bandit who executed the single biggest robbery of the Union Pacific Railroad, escaping with $60,000 in spoils.
The caverns utility as a “secret” location continued during the Prohibition era of the 1920’s when the chambers were used as a speakeasy nightclub. In 1931, the caverns and surrounding ranch land were re-civilized when they were purchased by the State of Texas to form a state park. Improvements to the cave and park were completed by the Civilian Conservation Corp, a nationally funded project created by President Franklin Roosevelt to provide employment to families suffering from the Great Depression and complete needed infrastructure projects around the country. Since 1932, the caverns have been open to the public, and in 1971 the park was dedicated as a National Natural Landmark.
Unique Tours and One-of-a-Kind Concerts
Visitors to the caves can participate in a number of tours to enjoy the caverns and their cool, comfortable year round 68 degree temperatures. The Daily Tour is offered several times a day ($12.99 for adults and $8.99 for children over 2) and provides visitors with a guided, 1 ½ long tour of the major chambers along the paved path within the cave.
Specialty tours are also available but must be reserved in advance. The Wild Caves Tour gives people the chance to explore the caves in a way that was previously only available to professional spelunkers. Participants can climb and crawl through passageways and areas off limits to other tours. The Photography Tour gives photographers the chance to bring in their equipment and adequate time to set up shots for fabulous photographs. Geology buffs will appreciate the Geology Tour lead by the onsite geologist, who will go in depth about the natural geologic formations. Visitors who want to be titillated by the ghost stories will enjoy the Paranormal Tour. Listen to the ghost stories, or if you are a ghost hunter, bring your paranormal equipment to attempt to record signs of paranormal activity that others have successfully captured.
Concerts are also held periodically, and reservations are a must as they typically sell out in advance. Make sure to check the calendar of events or call ahead to find out if a concert is taking place during your visit. The acoustics of the cave chambers are remarkable and lucky concert goers will be treated to a live performance unlike anything they have heard before.