July 6, 2022

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Natural Bridge Caverns begins 24-hour exploration of Texas cave

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A caving team will journey through unexplored cave passages at Natural Bridge Caverns in hopes of finding a connection between a newly discovered cave and the northern reaches of the caverns. The exploration is set for Friday, May 27 and could take up to 24-hours to complete.

“It could potentially change our ranking in terms of longest caves in Texas,” said Winter D. Prosapio, Director of Communications for the Natural Bridge Caverns. “It’s also all about having a better understanding of the cavern. The more we know, the better for us to be stewards of this incredible natural formation.” 

One of the most highly decorated parts of the Wild Cave.

One of the most highly decorated parts of the Wild Cave.

Photo by Bennett Lee

She said the exploration began in 2019 during an intense effort to climb a 90-foot-high dome in order to keep exploring. Currently, it’s the most active cave exploration effort in the state and could increase the length of the caverns system, according to a press release.

“Caving has its dangers, although our team is very, very well trained and takes precautions for safety,” Prosapio said. “They are, however, pushing it to a 24-hour expedition which is exhausting and may require them to spend the night in the cave, which is extremely challenging due to wet conditions.”

In 2019, a stream was spotted rising from a narrow crack along a dry rocky creek bed surrounded by thick cedar. The warm air coming from the cracks hinted the possibility of a large void somewhere below. In 2020, one of the cavers, T. Dexter Soechting, the great-grandson of Natural Bridge Caverns founder Clara Wuest Heidemann, was the first explorer of “Wild Cave.”

“I was not old enough to remember my great-grandmother before her passing,” said T. Dexter Soechting in the release. “So, to be part of the exploration team is not only exciting but a connection with my heritage.”

Nathan Hinkie and T. Dexter Soechting look into a forest of formations going north from Goliath’s Dome in Wild Cave.

Nathan Hinkie and T. Dexter Soechting look into a forest of formations going north from Goliath’s Dome in Wild Cave.

Photo by Bennett Lee

The team hopes to find a connection from the “Hope’s Mantel” area to the Wild Cave’s “House of Cards” room. It would add another 1,398 feet to bring the total to 20,475 feet, which is 3.88 miles. It would make the caverns the sixth longest cave in the state.


Natural Bridge Caverns is 3.61 miles long, making it the eighth longest cave in the state, moving up from 13th on the list due to recent discoveries. Natural Bridge Caverns remains the largest cave, in terms of volume, in Texas, according to the release.



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