Bracken Bat Cave outside of New Braunfels is home to the world's largest bat colony
Bracken Bat Cave outside of New Braunfels is home to the world's largest bat colony and is open to the public for a trial period on weekends this summer. There are so many bats emerging from the opening at the bottom of the limestone sinkhole that they show up on weather radar.
As the sun drops behind the live oak covered horizon, 16 to 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats fly into the night looking for insects. The bats reside in Central Texas from March to November before migrating to Mexico.
Bat Conservation International acquired the property in 1992, but access has been limited to members. They're the same folks who do educational programs about bats at Austin's Congress Avenue Bridge, the largest urban colony of bats in the world.
BCI provides a bat briefing at Natural Bridge Caverns before visitors drive to the property. As twilight engulfs the landscape, the flapping of thousands of wings grows into a soft roar as the bats execute their well-choreographed exit. Ribbons of flying mammals flutter into the fading light like columns of smoke. The display continues for four hours until the last insectivore goes on a dinner run.
Bracken Bat Cave is open by reservation at $24.99 per person (www.brackenbatflight.com). Discounted tickets are available by joining BCI at 327-9721. Combination tickets include a tour of Natural Bridge Caverns.
1,089th in a series. Collect them all. Day Trips, Vol. 2, a book of "Day Trips," is available for $8.95, plus $3.05 for shipping, handling, and tax. Mail to: Day Trips, PO Box 33284, South Austin, TX 78704.