Things to Do

5 Things to do at Kickapoo Cavern State Park

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Kickapoo Cavern State Park is a relatively new park in the Texas Parks and Wildlife system, opening full time in the summer of 2010. It is located 22 miles north of Brackettville, Texas, at the far West edge of the Texas Hill Country, and has some very interesting and unique things to offer.

1. Bats

thousands of bats exiting cave

Photo: Facebook/Kickapoo Cavern State Park

Stuart Bat Cave is a 1,068 foot deep cave that serves as home to thousands of Mexican free-tailed bats from mid-March to the end of October each year. Visitors to the park can watch the bats’ exit from the cave each evening during this time of year. They circle around and fly out in a spectacular, whirling mass, looking almost like a black tornado, as they head out to search for insects. Each bat can eat up to three-quarters of its body weight in insects every day, including pests like mosquitoes and moths. The population of this one cave could consume up to ten tons of insects nightly.

2. Bird-watching

Hooded Oriole

Photo: Facebook/Kickapoo Cavern State Park

Kickapoo is a prime location for wildlife observation. In addition to the bats, bird-watchers come from all over to see the many birds that live here, including two endangered species:  black-capped vireo and golden-cheeked warbler. A total of 240 species of birds have been recorded within the park boundaries, representing half the number of bird species recorded in the entire state of Texas. Other rare species found here include the gray vireo, the Montezuma quail, and the varied bunting. You can also see colorful woodpeckers, flycatchers, swallows, tanagers, and orioles. The best time for bird watching here is from April through late summer each year.

3. Caverns

exploring kickapoo cavern

Photo: Facebook/Kickapoo Cavern State Park

Other interesting features of the park include 20 known caves, two of which are large enough to be significant. One is Stuart Bat Cave, mentioned above, and the other is the park’s namesake, Kickapoo Cavern. Kickapoo Cavern is approximately one-quarter mile in length and boasts some impressive stalactites and stalagmites, including the largest cave formation in the state of Texas, a giant natural column formation that rises as tall as an eight-story building. Visitors can tour this cave every Saturday at 1 p.m., with advance reservations. It is in an undeveloped state and is a moderately strenuous underground hiking adventure. Explorers must wear sturdy hiking or walking shoes, and bring two light sources per person. Unauthorized entrance into any of the caves is prohibited.

4. Camping

cooking at campsite

Photo: Facebook/Kickapoo Cavern State Park

If you want solitude, a quiet and clean place to camp with beautiful night skies, this is the place for you. The staff is friendly and very helpful, and they have full hookups for RV’s and a group area available. The camping area is well maintained. However, there is not any trash disposal, so come prepared to pack your trash out with you when you leave.

5. Hiking

hiking the trails

Photo: Facebook/Kickapoo Cavern State Park

The park has 6,368.4 acres on the Southern Edwards Plateau. Besides exploring the Kickapoo Cavern itself, there are numerous marked trails with diverse landscapes to hike. One trail is named the Seargeant Memorial Trail, which is named after Tommy Seargeant, who sold the land to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and was a strong supporter of developing this park. This particular trail is three-quarters of a mile, starts near the campground and goes through creek beds and ridges, reaches an overlook with amazing views of hills and valleys in the park, then continues on to a location near the original trailhead. The other trails are differing lengths and terrain for hikers with all skill levels.

For reservations and information, you can call (830) 563-2342.

Sources:

Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Kickapoo Cavern State Park Facebook Page

Texas Parks and Wildlife Magazine