The Beauty Within
I am claustrophobic and hence my aversion to closed spaces is obvious. Never in my life would I have imagined going down in a cave. But some things and sights are so compelling that you just have to make an effort to be brave. So yes! I managed to cross off one more item from my list of things to do. And the caves that I went down were the Natural Bridge Caverns in San Antonio, Texas.
I was a little apprehensive to begin with, especially when I saw the path that we had to go down. Imagine my embarrassment because my kids were excited and I, a grown woman, was having second thoughts.
Before, telling you all about my awesome spelunking (cave exploring) experience let me tell you a little more about the Natural Bridge Caverns. The name itself is derived from the 60 ft natural limestone canopy that covers the amphitheater location of the cavern’s opening. The span was left hanging when a sinkhole bowed below it. The Natural Bridge Caverns were discovered in the year 1960 by 4 St. Mary’s University students. These students were Orion Knox Jr., Preston Knodell Jr., Al Brandt, and Joe Cantu. Today, these caverns are one of the most sought-after places to visit by tourists and other spelunkers.
- 21° C or 70° F is the constant temperature inside the cave. Humidity is extremely high at 99% and this too remains unchanged. So no matter how hot or cold it is outside you are bound to sweat.
- The public tour goes down as deep as 180 feet below the surface which is nearly 18 story’s down.
Back To My Experience
Coming back to squashing down my second thoughts and putting on a brave front for my kids, we ventured down a narrow passageway and passed through a special door that helps maintain the internal environment of the cavern. I thought it would be dark and gloomy inside but to my surprise, the Natural Bridge Caverns are strategically lit for maximum impact. Once inside the cavern, you are not allowed to touch anything, not a single rock. The tour guide is pretty serious about ensuring that you understand this very well. If you disobey, you can be fined, jailed or both. And thankfully nobody in our group was willing to find out either.
Although steep, going down initially was pretty easy. The first real sight of how lonely it is inside a cave came when we saw the only living fern inside the cavern. It is believed that the spores found their way inside on the clothing of workers. One of these spores germinated next to a light.
Naturally Beautiful Caverns
As you go down further, the path becomes wet and slippery. But this is where the true beauty of the caverns emerges. No matter how beautiful nature is, you still can’t be prepared for the splendor that lies deep in the womb of Mother Earth. The Natural Bridge Caverns is a testament to the fact that you cannot judge a book by its cover. Inside is a whole new world that is beyond beautiful. It is magical, enchanting, and breathtaking.
That water that has been dripping down the walls of the cavern has resulted in rock and mineral formations that are unique and beyond imagination. Even the regular stalagmites (a mound or tapering column rising from the floor of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water) and stalactites (a tapering structure hanging like an icicle from the roof of a cave, formed of calcium salts deposited by dripping water) look majestic. And sometimes this dripping water forms flowstones (rock deposited as a thin sheet by precipitation from flowing water) that look quite otherworldly.
Most unique are the “Fried Egg” formations. These are called so because at first glance that is exactly how they look…an egg that is sunny side up.
The sights that you encounter in the Natural Bridge caverns will hold you spellbound. My mind and imagination could not believe how nature could surpass its own creations, but surpass it did. The glittering architecture of the cavern was incomparable. Every bend and curve presented a sight that left our mouths hanging in awe.
Things To Remember
- It’s Very hot and humid inside the caverns. Even if it’s cold outside, the best advice would be to leave your caps, jackets and other warm clothes outside. As the warmth and humidity get to you they will come off and become a hassle to carry.
- There are no washrooms in the caverns so please attend to natures call before entering…especially remember this for the kids.
- You cannot take anything inside to either eat or drink. Kindly do so before or after the tour.
- Once inside the caverns DO NOT TOUCH ANYTHING.
A professional snapshot of the family to capture a grand adventure in the caverns. It will always remind me some things are better experienced and hence if you need to be extra brave to do so then so be it.