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Kickapoo Cavern features bats and 80-foot speleothem

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By Wayne Lazarus on June 28th, 2010

Categories: Linda's Travel Articles

Texas Hill Country recently celebrated the grand opening of Kickapoo Cavern State Park. The 6,400-acre park has been open only on a limited basis since it was purchased in 1991, but is now a seven-day-a-week park.

KickapoospeleothemOf the 20 or so caves in the park, two are large enough to explore, says Bryan Frazier, spokesman for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Visitors can view the largest “cave column” in Texas inside quarter-mile long Kickapoo Cavern. Known as a speleothem, it is eight stories high. Slightly smaller Stuart Bat Cave is a favorite gathering place at dusk, as people settle in to watch a spectacular sight: A cloud of half a million Mexican free-tailed bats taking flight for their nightly hunt.

The park offers 12 miles of trails for biking, hiking and horseback riding. Popular among birders, it is along migratory flight paths for many species and home to at least two endangered birds, the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo. Deer, raccoon, squirrels and rabbits abound, as well as unusual reptiles such as the barking frog and Texas alligator lizard. It is also one of the best places in the Lone Star State to glimpse a porcupine.StuartCave

Frazier suggests that those who make the just-over-two-hour drive from San Antonio bring water and picnic supplies, as the park doesn’t have a store yet. Take US 90 west  to Brackettville and exit on scenic FM 674, which offers classic views of the hill country limestone and streambeds. The park is located 22 miles north just inside Edwards County. If coming  from Del Rio instead of San Antonio, take US 90 east 30 miles to Bracketville.

The Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area is 40 miles further to the north along 674 and is also famous for its bats. Guided tours can be arranged from April to October to watch them exit at twilight. There are sometimes as many as a million bats in the cave. Call 830-683-2287 for information about tours, which are by reservation only. The cave, which has a vertical entrance, is not open to the public.

(Photos by Bryan Frazier, courtesy Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.)

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