Recently, John and I spent a Saturday morning and early afternoon exploring Inks Lake State Park. While in the Hill Country, we did not want to miss out on touring nearby Longhorn Cavern, so after our afternoon swim at Inks Lake, we dried off, changed clothes, and drove a few miles down the road to Longhorn Cavern.
We arrived 30 minutes before the final tour departed at 4 PM, so we had a few minutes to explore the old administration building, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. I can never see too much of the stonework created by the CCC!
Before long, we met up with our tour group and headed down the stone steps to the cavern entrance. I took one last shot of the trees and sky above, which we would not see again for 1.5 hours.
Immediately upon entering the cavern, the temperature dropped and we were in semi-darkness.
Crystal City is one of the first stops on the tour. Calcite crystals try their best to look like diamonds nestled in the rock above your head.
Flash is a must when taking a picture of yourself in a cave; I am only somewhat embarrassed to admit that it took me three tries to get this one right!
Our tour guide insisted this “guard dog” was entirely of natural formation. Despite having heard this on three separate tours through the cavern since I was in junior high, I still find it hard to believe.
Here’s the “Queen’s Chair,” upon which the well-to-do used to pose for photographs back during the cavern’s speakeasy days.
The “Hall of Marble” was our favorite part of the tour; the limestone on the walls and ceiling of the cave at this stretch is completely smooth, resembling marble.
This formation reminded me of the wings of the famous Winged Victory sculpture at the Louvre:
This dark chert formation (look just to the right of the center of the photograph), which resembles Abe Lincoln’s profile, was one of the more fun and surprising ones in the cave.
The Longhorn Cavern tour was well-worth the price of entry ($12 apiece with a Texas Parks Pass; $13 without) and was a perfect way to cap our day of outdoor (and underground!) activities. On our way home to Menard, we stopped for a delicious dinner at Cooper’s BBQ in Llano. John had been telling me about the restaurant, his favorite BBQ spot in the state, ever since we met. I’m not sure whether it was the food itself or the appetite I had worked up from the day’s activities, but I would have to agree with my husband – it was the best BBQ EVER. (And I’m not even much of a BBQ fan.)