Texas Speleological Survey

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This page last updated September 13, 2013

This page last updated September 13, 2013

Cascade Caverns

Click on Map below for a larger image

  • Location: Boerne, Kendall County
  • Length: 518 m (1,700 ft.)
  • Depth: 40.2 m (132 ft.)
  • Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
  • Length of Tour: 0:45 to 1:00
  • Admission: Please call for current rates, 10% discount for age 62+.
  • Phone: (830) 755-8080
  • Other Amenities: None
  • Author: George Veni

Directions:

On the outskirts of San Antonio, exit on 1604 (Anderson Loop) and head to IH 10. Take IH 10 "West" (although geographically you'll be heading north) and go about 16 miles and exit on Cascade Caverns Road. Follow the signs to the cave.

Description:

Cascade Caverns' tour follows the main 244-m-long passage, which steadily enlarges until ending in a large room highlighted by the historic cave's namesake -an impressive waterfall.

The main entrance to Cascade Caverns is an 18-m-deep pit known as the "Peep in the Deep." The modern trail follows a less demanding path through a lower entrance that was once obscured by boulders. The passage at the base of the pit begins as 2.5 m high by 15 m wide, but soon becomes taller and narrower. The tour runs the 244 m length of this passage, which maintains a mean cross-sectional area of about 20-25 m². Recently formed, and older, unusually shaped, redissolved speleothems occur along the tour. The Diamond Ceiling is one of the prettier features in the cave and displays hundreds of sparkling, incipient stalactites. The passage enlarges near its end to become the Cathedral Room, the largest in Kendall County, which measures 47 m long by 15 m wide by 23 m high. A large waterfall crashes down the wall into a lake at the far end of the room. Although the tour turns back to the entrance at the waterfall, the cave continues via an overflow tube set near the middle of the lake. The tube leads to a large, muddy lower level passage that heads 120 m southward to a sump. A 1982 cave-diving attempt to push the sump ended in mud fill at a depth of about 7 m.

Cascade Caverns has a long and colorful history. In the 19th century, a ledge located about 7 m down the entrance pit was the 20 year hermitage of a German who sought solace after being scorned by his lover. In 1906 a group of local boys found the lower entrance to the cave, resulting in more frequent visits by explorers. For 22 years the cave was thought to end at a sump 70 m in. In 1928, Dr. Frank Nicholson put a flashlight in a half-gallon fruit jar and free-dove through several short sumps to follow the low-air space passage for about 60 m, where the ceiling rose high again. Nicholson explored to the Cathedral Room and found the cave to have commercial merit. By 1932 the sumps were drained and the cave was opened to the public. The trail is about 240 m (790 ft.) long. Since 1932 Cascade Caverns has been a popular attraction with only occasional closings due to flooding. Over many years the owners have graciously allowed cavers to use the Peep in the Deep for vertical and rescue training.

The cave has a rich faunal assemblage but is best known as the type locality for a species initially described as Eurycea latitans, and later found to be a hybrid between the spring salamander E. neotenes and the blind Honey Creek Cave salamander E. tridentifera. Its invertebrate fauna is typical of floodwater caves along the Balcones Escarpment. Bones of Pleistocene-age mammals also have been found in the cave.

Cascade Caverns formed in the floodplain of Cibolo Creek as a recharge site for the Lower Glen Rose Aquifer. Flooding of the cave can result from local drainage, back flooding of Cibolo Creek (when it can top a dam that was built to protect the cave), and rises in the water table. Ground water in this section of the Lower Glen Rose is captured by the adjacent Edwards (Balcones Fault Zone) Aquifer. The sump and its mud plug at the base of the cave are common for caves in the Cascade area because water enters the Edwards' deep phreatic loop, resulting in little hydraulic energy at the water table to flush sediments through and out of the cave system.

Bibliography:

Bridges, J. 1982. Personal communication. Previous owner of Cascade Caverns.

Elliott, W. R. 1985. A field guide to the caves of Kendall County. Texas Speleol. Surv., pp. 21 & 75.

Fieseler, R. G., J. Jasek, and M. Jasek. 1978. An introduction to the caves of Texas. NSS Convention Guidebook

Nicholson, F. E. 1948. A celebrated cave exploration. Natl. Speleol. Soc. Bull. 10. Washington, D.C., p. 23-26.

Texas Speleological Survey. 1991. Report on the 60 longest and deepest caves. Texas Caver, 36(6):122.

Veni, G. 1994. Geomorphology, hydrogeology, geochemistry, and evolution of the karstic Lower Glen Rose Aquifer, South-Central Texas. Ph.D dissertation, Penn. State Univ., University Park, 721pp.

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