Tucked away next to the Pedernales River just west of Austin, near the town of Bee Cave, is the Westcave Preserve. Westcave is a non-profit entity run in coordination with the Lower Colorado River Authority. Nearby there are two other beautiful parks, the Hamilton Pool Preserve and the Milton Reimers Ranch Park. One could spent an entire weekend exploring all three parks.
The photo above is an overlook at Westcave peering down at the Pedernales River.
The park is available to the public by tour only on weekends or with a school group during the week. But for $5 a person, we felt the tour price was well worth it! The tours last about two hours, and we did not feel rushed. We were able to chat with the park ranger about the various botanical and wildlife interests within the park and nearby areas. I think we kept him engaged, asking questions that only nerdy biologists would ask! There was only us and a family of four on our tour, but I imagine in warmer weather it would be busier. I was a little surprised it wasn’t busy since it was New Years weekend.
The tour starts at the visitors center and traverses the ashe juniper and live oak habitats on the same level as the environmental center, but as we descended we entered a riparian type ecosystem of ferns, sycamores and cypress. It was beautiful! The Ashe Juniper-Live Oak complex is utilized by the endangered gold cheek warbler and apparently a few birds have been known to nest at the preserve.
Because the group on the tour was small we were able to take our time to take the photos we wanted. Often on tours we are rushed and cannot experience a place very well, particularly if it is crowded.
Before the preserve was founded it was visited by many people, swimmers, picnickers and people who eventually, both purposefully and unknowingly, caused some damage to the typical structures you see in caves like stalactites and stalagmites.
In the next post I will show a few photos from inside the cave as well as some closer still-life shots of the surrounding area. It was wonderful to be able to stop and look at a tiny little scene and have the time to shoot it. I can’t wait to show you those!
And if anyone cares, I found the management plan for Westcave Preserve.