Photo inside the Caverns of Sonora

The Caverns of Sonora Tour: Texas’ Best Kept Secret

The Caverns of Sonora tour in Southwest Texas is both educational and breathtakingly stunning! While lesser known than its New Mexican neighbor, Carlsbad Caverns, the Caverns of Sonora near Sonora, Texas are amazing in their own right. First discovered in its full glory in 1955 by local farmers, the Caverns of Sonora are now a local attraction providing educational tours, caving adventures, and more! This blog will cover everything you need to know for your visit to these captivating Texas caverns.

Photo of the Caverns of Sonora sign on the redwood gift shop against a cloudy blue sky with fall leaves peaking into the frame on the top corners.

How Much Does it Cost to go to the Caverns of Sonora?

Adult tickets for visitors 12 and older for the Crystal Palace Tour cost $28 a piece. For children under the age of 12, tickets are $22, and any children under the age of 4 can join the tour for free. The Caverns of Sonora also offers group tours, a discovery challenge caving adventure, and photography tours at varying rates. For the specialty tours, which include anything other than the Crystal Palace Tour, visitors should contact the Caverns of Sonora directly.

Photo take of a tour group walking single file through the Caverns of Sonora tour.

How Long does it Take to go through the Sonora Caverns?

The Crystal Palace Tour guides visitors 155 feet below the Earth’s surface and takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes. It leaves from the gift shop where you can purchase your tickets at the register. The tour does include 360 steps and takes visitors into a highly humid environment that is a consistent 71º F and 98% humidity. It is important to be properly hydrated and dressed for the environment. Also important is the fact that there are no bathroom stops, and visitors are instructed to leave all belongings except for cameras outside of the caverns.

Photo from inside of the Caverns of Sonora with views of the stairway that is taken down into the caverns.

Our Experience at the Caverns of Sonora

When we first arrived at the Caverns of Sonora, we immediately saw the gift shop just across from some of the campsites. We parked in the gift shop parking lot and found our way inside to inquire about tour tickets, but not after some initial encounters with peacocks on the front porch. Soon after arriving inside, we purchased our tickets and received a departure time for the tour. After we purchased our tickets, we had about 20 minutes to wander around the gift shop, use the restroom, and secure our belongings before departing on the tour.

Photo of woman standing in the Caverns of Sonora with a look of amazement on her face.

Tour Guide

Our tour guide was quite informative and energetic. We learned a ton about the history of the property, the current preservation efforts, and, of course, the geology of the caverns. He was, understandably, strict about the no touching rules, but kept his agreement to provide fair warning before escorting any visitors out of the caverns. The guide also gave visitors ample time to take photos and make their way up the many stairs at the own pace.

Photo of a woman from behind as she is walking into a tunnel carved from natural rock to exit the Caverns of Sonora.

Geology and Rock Formations

The Caverns of Sonora are most well-known for their otherworldly calcite crystal formations. Visitors will see a variety of such formations including, but not limited to,

  • helictites,
  • soda straws stalactites,
  • speleothems,
  • stalagmites, and
  • cave bacon.

Yes, you read that right. Cave bacon. One of the most unbelievable sites shown in the photo below were the formations that looked eerily similar to the snow covered pine forests in the Rocky Mountains. The grandiose formations are truly incredibly and an absolute treat for the eyes.

Photo of calcite crystal formations in the Caverns of Sonora that resemble a snow covered pine forest.

While some formations resembled snow covered forests, others mimicked crystal chandeliers, cauliflower, melting icicles and more. It is best to let your imagination run wild as you take in the wide variety of unique crystal formations in these caverns! View the photos gallery below for a small taste of what you will see on the Crystal Palace Tour.

Photo Gallery from the Caverns of Sonora Crystal Palace Tour

Here is a short reel from my Instagram showing off even more beauty from the Caverns!

Final Thoughts on the Caverns of Sonora

If you are planning a visit to the Caverns of Sonora, you are in for a real treat! I cannot emphasize the unusual beauty of these caverns enough. Having been to some world-class caves, namely, the Batu Caves in Malaysia, I can confidently say the Caverns of Sonora can easily compete on the global stage. If you have not planned your trip here just yet, I sure hope you add it to your list of future adventures!

Stephanie Wilson

Stephanie was born and raised in Colorado where she developed her great appreciation for exploring big open spaces outdoors. She is a Sociology PhD and advocates for the discipline of applied sociology in her role as a founder of Applied Worldwide, a digital content production and consulting company. Dr. Wilson is an adjunct professor of sociology at the University of Northern Colorado and a researcher of health inequalities. She is also a dancer at heart, serves on the Board of Directors for the Colorado Dance Collective, and is always looking for her next opportunity to perform, teach, or choreograph.