The Natural Land Bridge Caverns
26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road, San Antonio, TX 78266
$28/ages 12 and up, $16/ages 3-11 (Prices for combo ticket.)
We did the combo tours. It took about 3 ½ hours to do both. The first one was a bit longer as we had more questions and a larger group going through it. By the second one, there weren’t as many questions, and I think there were only about 10 of us total. So it went pretty quick.
The first tour takes you 180’ below the surface, it’s ¾ of a mile long, and you don’t climb back out the same place. You go down one way and come up another. There were only a few steps at the beginning to take you down the first 50’ or so. The rest of it was just graded walkways. You are not allowed to touch anything in the cave system, with the very small exception of the hand rails they’ve put in. The tour guide was very good. The only problem I had was that there was another family on the tour with two preschoolers, and the parents seemed to be delighted with all of their children’s sounds. So every time we stopped for a few minutes so the guide could explain some new formations and share a bit more of the history of the caverns, the little tots would get bored and start singing or talking, etc. The problem with two-fold. 1. The parents didn’t ONCE tell their kids to shut up. Not to sound rude, but we all know kids make noises. It’s your job as a parent when you’re in a place where you’re supposed to be quiet, to tell you kids to hush. In fact, I saw the father playing a pat-a-cake type game with his son like they were just hanging out on the couch at home, not trying to listen to the guide. 2. Every time the tots started making noise, the guide raised her voice. It’s not a bad habit to have as a tour guide, so that everyone can hear you. Unfortunately, she was already loud enough, the formation of the cave makes it so that sound is louder than it would be in the open, and ever time she raised her voice, it came across as borderline scream, which made her normally nice tour guide voice grate on my nerves.
Other than that, I really enjoyed her. We ended up being in the back of the group at the end and because she had to be the last one out, she took her time and showed us some other cool things that weren’t part of the tour, like a few fossils that remained, or how limestone vs calcium deposits react under light from her flashlight.
The other tour guide was pretty good as well, but I preferred the first lady. The second tour took us down 185 steps, and then back up again. It was about ½ mile in length, so ¼ mile each way. When you got to the bottom, there was a small set of seats that she had us sit in and then she turned off all the lights and we got to experience the cave as it is naturally. Of course Gabe couldn’t resist making scary noises. Him and my boys were louder than another couple who’d come with a 2 year old. That little boy was quiet through the whole black out. And during speaking portions, if he started talking, his mother of father would bend down and encourage him to whisper. Which I appreciated after the first tour. (And I’m not being self-righteous here. On a few occasions I had to hush up my own kids in the caves, and during other site seeing attractions as well….it’s part of being a parent, as well as being respectful to others who may not think your kid’s itsy-bitsy spider is the cutest thing in the world.)
Another thing to note about the second cave was a “diamond river”. It was formed out of very slow moving deposits and crystals had time to grow larger than in most other formations. So the effect was gorgeous. A smooth “river” of calcium deposits that was almost white and sparkled with crystals. There was also another formation that looked like a pin-cushion. The stalagmites came out from it from all angles. This is formed because there are capillaries inside the formation and it’s pressurized, so little by little, the deposits are push outward in all different directions, regardless of gravity. Finally, there were a lot of the straw formations, which are very long and thin, and they are hollow. So, obviously, they call them straws, because that’s what they look like. Three to four foot long straws.
We all really enjoyed it. I was having trouble that week with my hips and legs and had a hard time of getting back up. But with the hand rails, I was able to lift myself up and out. My pat on the back was the younger couple who had come on both tours with us who was stopping to catch their breath while I moved on. Yes, I was tired at the top. But I was ABLE to get to the top, even with not being able to use my left leg hardly at all. Thank God I work out so when one part is acting up, I can compensate with other parts! There were benches set every few flights or so, so if you needed to stop and sit, you could. But it was relatively easy to get back up top.