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Caverns of Sonora in Texas: A Photographic Tour

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Do you see the butterfly wings?  This is called the crystalline "Butterfly" at the Caverns of Sonora.

Do you see the butterfly wings? This is called the crystalline "Butterfly" at the Caverns of Sonora.

The "Crystalline Butterfly"

The butterfly pictured above has been a trademark for the Caverns of Sonora since 1960. It truly looks like a butterfly has alighted upon the crystallized walls of the cavern. Its fluttering wings have been frozen for all eternity in a wide open pose.

These caverns are privately owned, and the owners are ranchers. They offer private tours to visitors.

The location of this cave, with its awe-inspiring and stunningly beautiful natural creations, is in the southwestern part of Texas just eight miles west of Sonora. One can access the caverns by taking exit 392 off of Interstate 10. Please join us on this photographic tour of one of the Texas sites well worth a visit.

A longtime girlfriend from Germany and I had started our trek heading west from Houston on vacation one year. Our goal was to view national parks, state parks and other scenic points of interest.

As we passed San Antonio on Interstate 10 and continued westward we started seeing numerous ads for the Caverns of Sonora. We were making pretty good time on the road and decided that we could spare an hour or so to take a look and discover what this cavern beneath the surface of the ground had to offer.

Touring the Caverns of Sonora

These caverns are not the largest of caves by any measure, but they are strikingly attractive and well illuminated. People may enjoy viewing the many different formations via a closer perspective.

Other than some necessary stair climbing both up and down, most of the cave had level pathways with railings for safety on the regular guided two-hour tour. Initially one climbs down 50 feet from the surface before hitting level pathways. There are four levels and seven miles of guided passages.

Stalactites hang down from the ceiling and are continually growing. Stalagmites are also growing up from the floor. Sometimes the stalactites and stalagmites are both collectively referred to with the name dripstone. It has taken millions of years to develop what can now be viewed inside of these caverns.

The cave is chock full of interesting and different types of shapes and forms to tickle the imagination. Several looked just like slices of bacon.

Another grouping looked like a spilled bucket of popcorn littering the floor. Tree-like structures add interest. At one point it looks like people are walking into the belly of a whale!

One can imagine a lions tail dangling down from the ceiling. Imagination is stretched to the limit in describing all of the interesting clusters of naturally occurring designs found inside the Caverns of Sonora.

The caves were discovered by accident back in the 1940s. The official opening of the caverns was on July 28, 1960. By 1980 tours were being led and since that time countless people have come from all over to personally see the beauty that presents itself inside.

Above Ground at the Caverns

Above the cave grounds, picnic tables are placed, and we took advantage of using them for our lunch. On the other side of the fence, we saw a large herd of grazing cattle.

The caverns are open year round. There are RV and tent campsites available for those wishing to spend a bit more time in this area.

Cattle grazing above ground at the Caverns of Sonora.

Cattle grazing above ground at the Caverns of Sonora.

Intimate Cave Experience

We would later get to see Carlsbad Caverns National Park. It is vast and has huge chambers in comparison to this more intimate cave.

If you like seeing things up close and personal, then the Caverns of Sonora will satisfy you. It is truly a sparkling gem among many grand Texas sites worth visiting. Be sure to take your camera!

See additional photos below that were taken on our visit to this particular cave.

Off-Trail Adventure at Caverns of Sonora

For those who are in good shape and wish to explore these caverns even more intimately by climbing, crawling, and rappelling, there is a four-hour off-trail tour that will be right up your alley so to speak. My friend and I chose the shorter walking tour instead. Watch the video below to see parts of the discovery challenge tour.

The people who produced this beautiful video titled it "the most beautiful cave in the USA". It is well worth watching!

Location of These Caverns


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2009 Peggy Woods

Comments are welcomed. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on October 21, 2016:

Hi Susie,

That is the wonder of the Internet. We all get to see and enjoy scenery and learn about places we may never get to visit in person. I am happy to know that you enjoyed this tour of the Caverns of Sonora. Thanks for your comment.

Susie Lehto from Minnesota on October 20, 2016:

Caves are like a whole different world . This one would be amazing to see personally, I would love it, Peggy. Thank you for the the photo tour, that might be as close as I ever get to seeing this unique place.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2016:

Hi Robert,

It was fun. I was a child and I remember we had to duck our heads as we entered the cave.

Robert Sacchi on May 20, 2016:

That must be a wonderful boat ride through caverns.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2016:

Hi Robert,

You are correct. It is enjoyable visiting caverns both large and small unless one is claustrophobic. I remember when I was a child I got to ride in a boat into one of them with my family. That was up in the Midwest...probably somewhere in Wisconsin.

Robert Sacchi on May 18, 2016:

If I remember right Natural Bridge Caverns is the largest in the San Antonio Area. There are a few caverns in the Shenandoah Valley area which I have visited.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 17, 2016:

Hi Robert,

Natural Bridge Caverns is in the San Antonio area and would you believe...I have never toured them! Should remedy that in the days or years ahead. The largest caverns I have ever visited was Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico which is also one of our National Parks. This Caverns of Sonora while small was definitely pretty.

Robert Sacchi on May 17, 2016:

This article brought back memories. I believe there is also the Cascades Caverns in that area. Touring the caverns in the San Antonio area was my first experience in touring caverns. Very impressive.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2013:

Hi Suzanne,

This is a little jewel of a cave...so very pretty! Glad that you enjoyed your virtual tour. Gave me a chance to update the hub. Thanks for your comment and votes.

justmesuzanne from Texas on May 21, 2013:

So gorgeous! We have so many wonders in the US. I hope we will not destroy them all in the name of gas, oil and uranium... Voted up and beautiful! :)

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 04, 2011:

Hi natures47friend,

I had a simple Canon 35 mm camera back then when these photos were taken. Now I am loving my Panasonic DMC-FS15 digital camera. All of my cameras have been quite simple. Nothing fancy. Texas has a lot to offer visitors if you decide to visit. Thanks for your comment on the Caverns of Sonora. Be advised...the distances are vast in Texas!

natures47friend from Sunny Art Deco Napier, New Zealand. on December 04, 2011:

Cool..so maybe we should visit Texas if we plan to go to the US.

Amazing butterfly formations.....impressive photos. Do you have a large, sophisticated camera for those shots...I'm getting frustrated with my little 3x digital!...lol

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on December 04, 2011:

Hi homesteadbound,

Yes...think West Texas...that is where you will find the Caverns of Sonora, and it is a beauty! Glad that you liked the photos and hub. Thanks for your comment.

Cindy Murdoch from Texas on December 04, 2011:

I did not know these were in Texas. They look beautiful. We may have to visit them sometime. Thanks for sharing. Your presentation was wonderful and your pictures were great.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 02, 2010:

Hi billyaustindillon,

Those are two caves that I have not yet seen. Should have gotten to Natural Bridge Caverns when my mother-in-law used to live in San Antonio, but we were always doing other things. Someday I would like to see both caves you mentioned. The Caverns of Sonora are well worth a stop and visit if traveling out west in Texas.

billyaustindillon on July 02, 2010:

Great shots - I have never been to these caverns. I have just seen the Natural Bridge and Cascade caverns in Texas.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on June 20, 2010:

Greetings Austinguy,

If you like visiting caves, the Caverns of Sonora will definitely please you. It is a beauty! Thanks for the visit and comment.

Austinguy on June 20, 2010:

This is a cave I have yet to visit and its reputation makes it sound awesome. Nice butterfly helictite photo!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 13, 2009:

Wow, Ed! That is really a compliment! Thanks!

The caverns are truly beautiful and anyone passing anywhere near that area should make a point of stopping to see them. I would recommend them to everyone and I have absolutely no monetary interest in them (as you would well know).

Thanks for your comment.

Clicked on your name to see what you have written and found out that it leads to another link to the Caverns of Sonora. Thought people might want to know this.

Thanks again!

Ed on April 13, 2009:

Hi Peggy. I'm with the Caverns of Sonora and i just wanted to stop by and thank you for the support. Your pictures and article on the cave are great. Thanks again.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 05, 2009:

Hello Karen, Glad you liked the photos. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Karen Ellis from Central Oregon on April 04, 2009:

Great pictures. This looks like something I'd love to see.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 21, 2009:

Hello Real Tomato,

It is always a bit cooler and damp in caves. This one was not as large as Carlsbad where the sounds do echo. Smell? I just remember the coolness and more damp atmosphere, not so much of any kind of distinctive smell. Thanks for commenting.

The Real Tomato on March 21, 2009:

I have always wanted to see these and others. Carlsbad is one we will stop by when moving back east (in the near future). Good to know you found it worth the trip. I can only imagine the awe, I'll bet the sounds are different in a cavern also. What did it smell like?

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on March 04, 2009:

Guess you liked this one, Teresa. Ha! It truly is a beautiful cave.

Sheila from The Other Bangor on March 03, 2009:


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