Where do Bryson residents go when they want to enjoy a unique day trip? Longhorn Caverns State Park.
Located south of Burnett, the 645-acre park’s most prominent feature is a cavern created by an ancient river. The temperature of the “National Cave of Texas” remains at 68 degrees throughout the year, making it the perfect place to beat the Texas heat without being too cold to visit in winter.
To see the cavern, you must book a tour. The easiest and most popular is the Cavern Walking Tour. During the tour, visitors descend 130 feet below the surface. Tour guides regale guests with the history of the caverns, including spots where legends say outlaw Sam Bass hid a $2 million cache of stolen money, Confederates made gunpowder during the Civil War and Texas Rangers rescued a kidnapped girl from Indians. The tour is 1.1 miles and takes 90 minutes to complete.
The Wild Cave Tour is a tougher walk. It lasts two to three hours and amateur spelunkers must wriggle and crawl their way through the undeveloped lower level of the cavern. It’s a chance to experience the cavern as it existed before modern lights and walkways were installed. Safety gear is provided but you will get wet and dirty. Not to worry. Complete the tour and you will receive a Wild Cave Tour Finisher T-shirt.
There is more to the park than the caverns. The Civilian Conservation Corp developed Longhorn Caverns State Park, and you can tour the historic buildings they left behind. Popular with park visitors is the Observation Tower, which boasts breathtaking views of the Texas Hill Country. There is a snack bar for hungry explorers, walking trails and a gift shop.
Camping is not allowed, but if you want an overnight trip, Inks Lake State Park is a 10-minute drive away. There you can swim, camp, paddle and hike.
Prepare for your visit by packing shoes with rubber soles, water, snacks, a picnic lunch if you don’t want to purchase food, sunscreen and bug spray. If you plan to do the Wild Cave Tour you will need a helmet, a headlamp with extra batteries, soft knee pads, gloves and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty in.
Longhorn Caverns State Park is located at 6211 Park Road 4 South, Burnett. Park hours are weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from May 31 to Aug. 15. Weekends and holidays are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. From Aug. 16 to May 30, park hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Cavern Walking Tour prices are $18.95 adults, $14.95 for children ages 4 to 11 and free for children 3 and under. Tickets for the Wild Cave Tour are $94.95 for ages 8 and up. Children 7 and under are not allowed to participate. Ages 17 and under must be accompanied by an adult. The ticket price does include the Wild Cave Tour Finisher T-shirt.