Ultimate Guide to Westcave Preserve, Texas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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Westcave Preserve is a real gem of the Texas Hill Country as it offers majestic beauty and great ecological diversity. Located 40 miles from Austin, the Preserve provides beautiful views of the Pedernales Rivera, boasts of fantastic geological formations inside a small cave, and has diverse wildlife and plant species.
The Preserve is continuously undergoing restoration projects, and it is poised to offer additional opportunities for visitors to explore and learn more about nature. Spread over 75 acres of land, the Preserve is full of people hiking, climbing, and participating in guided tours to learn more about Nature and its plants and flowers.
History of Westcave Preserve
Westcave Preserves is so named because it is located west of the Pedernales River. It is important to know that Westcave Preserve was a farm estate in the late 1800s and was not a Preserve. The Republic of Texas set aside the land as an unappropriated school land, but it sold it in the 1950s. The property had changed ownership multiple times but was abused by the campers and tourists regularly. They did admire the natural beauty of the area but never took any steps to preserve it.
In 1974, John Covert Watson, who lived in Austin, purchased 26 acres of land and established Westcave Preserve Corporation. An additional 3 acres of land was added to the Preserve by another landowner, Alfred Glenn. Westcave Preserve Corporation received nonprofit status in 1976. They had two visions – to keep the site open for the public and manage the property in such a manner that causes minimal effects on the environment.
The corporation was heavily dependent on funds and donations, and it had to borrow heavily to meet the payments on its debts. When the financial burden became too heavy, the Lower Colorado River Authority purchased the lien on the property in 1981. It allowed the corporation a 99-year lease at a marginal fee with an option to renew. The striking feature of the Preserve is the collapsed limestone grotto that forms a canyon.
Geological Cave Formations
You will come across decent geological formations when you hike to the bottom of the canyon. There is a cave at Westcave Preserve known as Hammett’s Cave, a small cave with beautiful rock formations like stalagmites.
Wildlife in Westcave Preserve
You will come across several exotic animal species in Westcave Preserve, such as ring-tailed cat, cedar waxwing, nutria, and golden-cheeked warbler.
Is Westcave Preserve Haunted?
The locals believe that a demonic force haunts the main grotto in Westcave Preserve. Several people have reported a sense of great fear and insecurity when entering the grotto even though it looks beautiful from any angle you look at it.
There is a story that an amateur photographer was clicking pictures, but he got annoyed as they were not coming out clearly. He only saw empty frames, and when he looked up, he saw a black mass hovering over the water inside the cave. When he backed away, he saw the mass flying out of the cave, hovered above him for a few seconds, and retreated to the cave.
How Big is Westcave Preserve?
Westcave Preserve is spread over 75 acres.
Westcave Preserve Tours
Westcave Preserve is a delicate natural wonder, and all hikes are available only by a tour guide. A guided hike is not stressful, but it will take around two hours and a mile of round-trip walk to complete. The guide will take you along a scenic route, and the visitors get educated on the nature of biodiversity that is on offer here. The guided tours are offered only during the weekends, but only 30 people are allowed per tour. So, it would help if you arrived early to get a spot.
The guided tour will take you down into the canyon and the cave, and he will tell you stories about how the cave and the canyon got created in the first place. You can take lots of pictures on tour.
As you slowly clamber through, you will get to view a 600-year-old Cyprus tree and little animals who are not shy to eat from your hands. If it is summer, you will get to see the wildflowers in full bloom. It is a beautiful tour where you walk through the lush beauty and discover the various secrets of nature. After you reach the wooden observation deck, you will be climbing down 100 steps and get to see the majestic 40 ft waterfall pouring into the picturesque pool.
Finally, you enter the Hammett’s Cave which is filled with great geological formations. After the tour gets over, you can wander on your own and return to the starting point.
Tour Prices and Discounts
The Guided Canyon tours are priced as below –
- Adults – USD 5
- Child under 12 – USD 2
- Family – USD 15
Free tour admission is offered to the members of Westcave Preserve.
Is Westcave Preserve Cold?
Hammett’s Cave, which is inside Westcave Preserve, is usually 20 degrees cooler than the temperature at the top of the trail.
What to Wear?
You can dress comfortably in any attire with a pair of tennis or hiking shoes. You can go for shoes that offer ankle support to get a better experience of the Preserve. If you are coming in winter, then do wear clothes in layers. Hats and sunscreen are recommended in warmer seasons.
Westcave Preserve Hours
- Weekdays: By reservation only for school and other groups.
- Weekends: Public tours are offered at 10 am 12 pm, 2 pm, and 4 pm.
What to Do at Westcave Preserve (Beside Tours)
Westcave Preserve is small compared to the larger outfits, but it is full of scenery and wonderful opportunities to do more here. It is a great destination for families, and there are loads of side trips if you have the time. Both Reimers Ranch and Hamilton Pool are nearby and can be covered as short excursion trips. The Pedernales Falls State Park is also close by, giving you a unique opportunity to view the rock formations and waterfalls.
Best Time to Visit
It is good to arrive early for the tour as only the first 30 people are allowed for each tour. The best time to visit is between 9 and 10 am.
How to Get to Westcave Preserve
Westcave Preserve is in the southwest of Travis County, which is around 45 min from downtown Austin. If you are coming from Austin, you need to travel west on Highway 71to the village of Bee Caves. Take a left turn at Ranch Road 3238, which is also known as Hamilton Pool Road. Now you need to travel 14 miles on the Hamilton Pool Road to the Pedernales River. The 1st gate on your right after crossing the river is that of the Westcave Preserve.
There are decent hotels within 15 to 16 km of the preserve, such as FireSong Ranch and Lakeway Resort & Spa. If you are not averse to camping, then you can go to the Pedernales Falls State Park, which is close to the Preserve and offers endless camping opportunities with an array of primitive and RV campsites.
Visiting Westcave Preserve
Do you need more information before visiting Westcave Preserve? Call (830) 825-3442 or email Westcave Preserve for an information packet.
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