Natural Bridge Caverns
Click on Map below for a larger image
From San Antonio drive north on IH 35 toward New Braunfels. Pass Anderson Loop (1604), continue on 35 for 4 miles watching for cavern signs, then take Exit 175 to RM 3009. Cross over IH 35 and drive through Garden Ridge and northwest for 7.5 miles to Natural Bridge's private road, which goes about 1 mile to the cave. New Braunfels is another 8 miles north on IH 35.
Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest Texas show cave and one of the most impressive because of its size and beauty. You'll love the totem poles, fried eggs, and massive formations.
The name of the cave comes from the natural stone bridge, all that is left of a huge, collapsed room that now forms the entrance sink. The cave is unusual in that much of it is formed in the upper member of the Glen Rose Formation (Cretaceous age), which is not usually cavernous.
Before the cave was commercialized in 1964, it was popular among cavers. On March 27, 1960, a group of four cavers from San Antonio checked an old, air-flow lead and dug into a tight crawl. Orion Knox led the group in and discovered the large, pretty part of the cave that day. The owners, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Heidemann, worked with Orion and with Jack Burch to develop the cave. Two tunnels were dug to provide a sloping entrance into St. Mary's Hall. A second tunnel then leads down and into the main "North Caverns." Glass doors were installed to keep the cave from drying out. The development was artfully done to damage the cave as little as possible.
From the first room in the cave, Pluto's Anteroom, the passage slopes steeply down through Sherwood Forest, 55 m below the entrance and to the deepest point on the trail. Carefully built switchbacks wind through the totem poles. Next comes the deep canyon of Purgatory Creek, which sometimes floods above an ingeniously engineered concrete bridge, which is attached to one wall 10 m above the floor.
Next is the Castle of the White Giants, named for its massive speleothems. Near the end of this large room is Grendel's Canyon, which leads down to the deepest point in the cave some 76 m (250 ft.) below the entrance. Stairs then lead to the Hall of the Mountain Kings, a huge dome, the floor of which is covered with flowstone, stalagmites, columns, and fried eggs. Another man-made tunnel leads out to the surface.
The owners discovered the "South Caverns" by drilling boreholes on the opposite side of the entrance sink. This 450-m long section is being carefully developed with all-concrete trails and minimal damage to the cave.
Reddell, J.R. 1964. The caves of Comal County. Texas Speleol. Surv., 2(2):60 pp.
Wuest, R., and J. Burch. 1989. Natural Bridge Caverns-Commercial trail development (abstr. National Cave Management Symposium Guidebook, New Braunfels, Texas, Texas Cave Management Association.
All data on this page and on the linked Show Caves is revised from: