Monday, June 27, 2011

Caverns Across the Country/Recommended: Natural Bridge Caverns

I've been down to San Antonio about five or six times. Besides welcome and repeat trips to the riverwalk or to indulge in delicious fish tacos at Rosarios, I've always found something new to uncover.

For example, on a recent visit I found a "new" cavern. Over the years, I've taken tours of a number of established caverns. Some of the worst have been Meramec Caverns in Missouri, its stalactites picked over by tourists and thieves, and Ruby Falls in Tennessee, with its tacky music, cheesy light show and underground waterfall with the look and feel of basement plumbing that's sprung a serious leak.

I do hold a tender spot for Cave of the Mounds in southwest Wisconsin, which smaller formations are nonetheless impressive, lending an overall atmosphere both natural and enchanting. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, on the other hand, is indeed massive, but made up mostly of endless grey cave walls and few cavern formations.

Still on my list to see are the Luray Caverns in Virginia and Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. And if I should venture deeply into Europe, the Postojna Caves in Slovenia would appear on my itinerary.

Until then, I have found a cave that one ups any cavern I've visited in the past: Natural Bridge Caverns near New Braunsfels, Texas. Though more wet and steep than other cavern tours, it is well worth the effort. Its graded pathways lead into one magnificent room after another, the size of cathedrals and just as awe-inspiring. Its multi-million-year-old, dramatically lit formations tower above and below in a variety of earth-crafted sculpture installations, true art without need for the human touch. Bats also once inhabited these caves, but no longer.

Take the Discovery Tour, lasting 70 minutes and tracing 3/4 of a mile down, around and up the railed, and sometimes unrailed, paths.

Afterward, I had fun digging through a huge tray of polished gemstones in the giftshop, stuffing an array of solid, striped and marbled stones of every color into a small drawstring bag for only $6. Many may be destined for my upcoming earring and necklace jewelry projects. ◦


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Anonymous said...

Hi, nice location, i muse on roughly something similar to this place but i don't have anytime again, but really it's very careful