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Go on an Adventure at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

Tour a cave and walk behind a waterfall. Photo courtesy of Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center

Walk behind a waterfall and tour a historic grotto at Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center. This gorgeous 76-acre preserve is a perfect place to spend a summer afternoon.

Just a mile away from Hamilton Pool, Westcave Preserve shares a similar history. Throughout the mid-1900s, visitors frequented the preserve with little regard to their environmental impact.

“The public knew about the place and the landowner didn’t live here, so people would trespass and come down to the grotto and swim and camp and party,” said Traci Ibarra, conservation specialist at Westcave. “They were ‘loving it to death,’ as we say.”

One trespasser, John Covert Watson, saw the beauty in the grotto and got the money together to purchase the property in 1973. The property was secured, cleaned up, and later opened for tours on weekends.

“When they first moved here, they said that the greenest thing in the grotto was the broken glass,” Ibarra said. “Going down there now, it’s lush, it’s beautiful, and there’s a ton of vegetation.”

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center became a nonprofit preserve in 1976 and was taken over by the Lower Colorado River Authority in 1983. Today, the preserve offers activities to the public such as weekend tours, plant- and animal-themed school programs, star parties, bird-watching, and bird walks.

If you would like to tour the grotto, show up on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday for a weekend tour.

“It’s about a half-mile down. There’s approximately 120 steps down to the canyon floor,” Ibarra said. “We have a Master Naturalist guiding the hike, and you learn about the cultural history, the geology, and the ecology of Westcave. Then, you get down to the grotto, and you can go behind the waterfall and into the cave.”

The preserve offers canyon and cave access by public tours Saturdays and Sundays at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.

From June 9-Aug. 11, there also will be tours on Fridays at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

All tours are first-come, first-served, so arrive early!

Tours cost $15 for adults and $7 for ages 4-17. No pets or smoking on the preserve.

On weekdays, visitors can tour the uplands along a well-groomed and wheelchair-friendly trail around a live oak and Ashe juniper savanna with bird-watching, wildlife sightings, and Hill Country views.

Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is located at 24814 Hamilton Pool Road in Round Mountain. For more information, visit westcave.org or call (830) 825-2257.

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