Adventure awaits you in the caves of Texas. 

Millions of years ago, Central Texas was submerged beneath an ancient sea, which created the conditions for today’s vast network of subterranean caves. Journey through the Texas underground to see stunning rock formations, hear echoes of our past, and experience an adventure you’ll never forget.

Show Caves

The sunlit Texas Hill Country landscape offers beauty beyond comparison, but today you feel an urge to scratch beneath the surface. So you descend into Cascade Caverns in Boerne, one of seven show caves in the state that are accessible to the public through guided tours.

The entrance hall to Cascade Caverns lies at the bottom of a 60-foot vertical pit known as the “Peep in the Deep” and leads to a narrow passageway of porous limestone. As you study the pocked walls, your guide informs you that you’re looking at the remains of a coral reef that thrived here 48 million years ago. Reflecting for a moment on that dizzying expanse of time puts your surface concerns in perspective and leaves you feeling unexpectedly comforted in this dark space. You continue past sparkling stalactites and undulating flowstones before reaching the “Cathedral Room,” where you come upon the cavern’s namesake: a large waterfall plunging into a clear pool of 58-degree water

The next stop on your underground adventure is only a half-hour away at the Cave Without a Name, “Texas’ best kept secret among show caves,” according to the Texas Speleological Survey. Pillars of stone appear to have the consistency of ice cream melting in the sun. Along the walls, the rock seems to be rippling, folding in on itself like supple cloth. The cave is like a geological art museum, a place for the inner earth to show off its seemingly boundless diversity of form. And the drip, drip, drip sound reverberating in the cavern reminds you that this work of art is still very much in progress.

Wild Caves

Your fascination with the underland now piqued, you decide to explore one of thousands of Texas caves that have been left to the bats, salamanders, and other specialized creatures that call them home. Wanting to do so safely, you accompany the UT Grotto group on a trip to Whirlpool Cave in South Austin. As advertised, this is a “crawly cave.” You traverse on hands and knees, marveling at the formations under the beam of your headlamp and the otherwise total darkness that surrounds you.

When you reach the cave’s largest chamber, you stretch out and look around. You and the other cavers are all smiling, buzzing with adrenaline. This is a side of the Lone Star State few have seen, and you think to yourself that perhaps the best way to really understand Texas is to get inside it.