Natural Bridge Caverns Opens Multi-million Dollar Expansion Tour
Feature Photo: President of Natural Bridge Caverns Brad Wuest speaks during the opening ceremony for the new tour on May 12. Image: Natural Bridge Caverns/Facebook
New Braunfels (Comal County) — After years of careful development and millions of dollars invested in design, engineering, technology, construction and guest experience, Natural Bridge Caverns has opened a new tour, Hidden Wonders.
Already the state’s largest and most visited commercial cave, this new multi-million-dollar tour experience features state-of-the-art lighting, a sound and light show and expansion into never before toured areas of the property’s Hidden Cavern. Development of the new tour experience and development of new areas of the cavern has been underway since 2017.
The Hidden Cavern is a second cavern at Natural Bridge Caverns and part of the same geologic system. This distinct and unique environment never had a natural opening to the surface. As a result, incredibly delicate and beautiful formations were able to grow in a completely sealed environment.
“In developing this area of the cavern system, we have both pursued and established best case practices for working in this delicate environment. Our goal is to give visitors a stunning view of the cavern like never before, without impacting its beauty,” said Brad Wuest, president of Natural Bridge Caverns. “Developing this tour has been challenging due to many things – including the depth of the new public tour area. This expansion required the construction of a 710-foot exit tunnel – double the length of anything done before – and to do so with minimal impact on the cavern. We used best in class techniques and developed new ones to make it work. We took the time to do it right. The result speaks for itself.”
Hidden Wonders features a first ever sound and light show in a massive box canyon.
Fully programmable state-of-the-art lighting is one of the dramatic changes in the cavern as well as a 1,100-foot-long expansion of the public passageways beginning with a stainless-steel bridge across the cavern’s deepest point. Now guests will tour through an area that was only previously accessible by cavers. This addition will showcase an underground canyon, more formations and a large 5,700-square-foot dome chamber called the “Ballroom” which serves as an event space. A new viewing area overlooking a massive passage called the Box Canyon is now a natural theater for a unique sound and light show finale.
Exiting the Hidden Wonders tour will also be a one-of-a-kind experience as guests effortlessly ride from underground to the surface on the 700-foot-long BAT (Belt Assisted Transport) through the newly constructed exit tunnel. The Bat is the world’s first conveyor system ride out of a cavern. All in all, these innovative features will combine to deliver a completely new experience of this Historic National Natural Landmark.
“We plan to showcase the science behind the beauty of this once hidden cavern on our tour,” added Wuest. “With Hidden Wonders’ many enhancements we have an opportunity to both educate and entertain.”
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Art Benavidez (Construction News Reporter, East Texas) is a seasoned journalist with over 15-years of experience in writing breaking news and in-depth features at the local level. He honed his research and reporting skills in newspapers and magazines throughout South and West Texas along with expertise in crafting digital content as Managing Editor of New Image Marketing Research Corporation. Benevidez is a Texas native and graduate of UTRGV.