During a stay at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort in Boerne, we had a free afternoon and decided to check Cave Without a Name. And we loved it – very impressive. Cave Without a Name is located off a scenic winding road through the rolling hills of the Texas Hill Country about 11 miles northeast of Boerne. As we walked up to the office we were warmly greeted by Tom, who it turns out is the very enthusiastic owner of Cave Without a Name. Tom was kind enough to give us a tour but before starting our tour we sat down at a picnic table outside the office and he told us about the cave, its history, and some interesting stories.
He started with “prehistoric remains which tells us that the Cave has been open for tens of thousands of years but humans discovered it when a small farm animal fell into the sinkhole in the 20th century. Until prohibition the cave went unnoticed when a small moonshine distillery (you can still see smoke on the cavern ceiling from the distillery) was installed in the upper part of the cave in the 1920s. The cave fell into obscurity until 1937 when three brave kids between 10 and 15 years old descended, most likely to their parents chagrin, and explored the cave a couple times before telling anyone. In 1939 the cave opened to the public as a show cave and a contest was held asking for entrees to name the cave. A young student submitted his entry which won the contest (and got him $250) and this beautiful cave without a name was named Cave Without a Name and the winner stated: it was too pretty to have a name.”
Cave Without a Name has two main sections – the main chambers which are open to the public and extend over a quarter of a mile and includes six different large rooms and the second main area is an extensive set of caverns linked to an underground extension of the Guadalupe River. A 1975 expedition mapped over 2.7 miles of caverns which makes Cave Without a Name the 7th largest cave in Texas. The Cave is still being mapped and explored. Over the years the cave has been used as a moonshiners distillery, for some films, weddings, concerts, lots of educational and scientific studies, and as an attraction open to the public and it is now a National Natural Landmark.
After a very enjoyable 30 minutes with Tom we started our descent down 126 steps to the original sink hole opening into this beautiful natural living cavern that some say is the most beautiful cavern in Texas. We were at the cave on a Wednesday and we were the only people there so we got a personal tour with Tom. About a quarter of the way down the stairs Tom had us look up and we saw the original entrance that the kids used to get into the cave – a small maybe 40″ inch oval hole. Wow, no way I would have the guts to descend down that with no fore knowledge of what’s down there! As we progressed down the stairs with Tom’s flashlight he would stop and turn on the electricity which would suddenly light up a section of the cave just in front of us and each time he did that we emitted a “Wow.” And I kept thinking about how dark it would be if the electricity went out – I hoped that Tom had a spare set of flashlight batteries! I also noticed that on this cold January day that it was warmer in the cave because the cave is a constant 66 degrees year round. About half way down I heard someone behind me – it was Mike who is one of the tour guides and jack of all trades.
As we descended, Tom gave us some interesting facts, some of which included:
the river still flows through a portion of the the cave
- the cave is over 2.7 miles in length but only a portion of that is open to the public
it was formed by underwater streams over millions of years – in fact, if you look closely at the walls you can notice various water level lines
mud from ancient floods still covers portions of the floor and formations
there are six major rooms the biggest of which is around 300 yards long and 20 feet tall
the cave is filled with formations of Stalactites, Stalagmites, delicate Soda Straws, Cave Drapery, magnificent Flow stones, Rimstone Dams, and more
At the bottom of the steps we stopped and couldn’t see much in front of us until Mike hit the switch and suddenly a huge magnificent cavern appeared in front of us filled with a variety of formations from the floor to the ceiling. “Wow!” This room, which is the first of six rooms open to the public, is named the Queens Throne Room and it’s stunning. Turns out the 3 natural domes on the ceiling make for some amazing acoustics and it’s where several unique events are held each year – concerts, wedding, conferences and more. I could image how special it would be to hear some orchestra music in the Queens Throne Room.
From there we twisted and turned through four more very impressive rooms each of which seemed to have a variety of different and unique dominate formations – one had very impressive rimstone dams, another had soda straws, while another was loaded with living stalagmites and cave drapery. A handful of some of the unique features that we saw included:
- rimstone dams up to 50 feet long beneath a crystal clear natural spring-fed pool
- Texas sized “cave bacon” which is beautiful draperies up to 19 feet long
- a collection of stalagmites that resemble the nativity scene
All too soon our tour ended at a clear and fairly fast moving subterranean brook that appeared out of no where and then disappeared back into the darkness. The brook is an underground extension of the Guadalupe River and its home to the rare blind Texas salamander, crawfish, and other unique species.
On the walk back toward the entrance we noticed new formations or features that we missed the first time, saw several pieces of equipment that were part of scientific studies, and we learned a lot more about the cave and it’s formations. Tom and Mike both said that every time they descend they notice something new or different as this living cave continues to grow and change and they become more observant.
I was surprised how much cooler it was once we were outside the cave – time to put the jacket back on. We spent a few minutes in the gift shop captivated by the sparkling and interesting collection of beautiful geode and gems, unusual rocks and minerals, plus jewelry and mementos. You can also buy a mystery bag of gems, fossils, or arrowheads and pan for a surprise at the mining sluice. Or pick a geode and they will cut it open with a rock saw to reveal it’s beauty.
Make sure that you check out the Events Calendar for some special events that are held throughout the year like the Axiom String Quartet or the Spring Equinox with Celebration Circle which is an eclectic mixture of upbeat songs and contemporary acoustic music played on ancient and modern instruments and much of this concert will be performed in total darkness, illuminated by periods of flickering candlelight, providing a visually rich, spell-binding setting and mesmerizing listening environment. If you’re traveling by motor home you can spend the night in the their RV park which has sites under the trees with water and electric hook-ups and it is just a minute walk to the cave entrance.
Bottom line – what a fantastic experience for all ages. Add Cave Without a Name to your “to do” list.