Discovery Village adds more fun to Natural Bridge Caverns


Natural Bridge Caverns Big Daddy’s offer s sweets and treats

Discovery Village is the new center of attraction at Natural Bridge Caverns near the German town of New Braunfels, Texas.  Designed to enhance the visitor experience, Discovery Village is a complete attraction featuring a waterfall, beautiful landscaping, and gardens constructed with stone and cedar from the property.

Following the ideals of the Wuest family who own the family park, a large compass highlighting Natural Bridge Cavern’s core values of discovery, adventure, wonder and nature greets visitors and reminds them of the naturally fun adventure that awaits them. Travis Wuest, who grew up on the family ranch and has been around the property all his life, says he and his brother are finishing the legacy begun by his grandmother and father. Because of his personal ties to Natural Bridge Caverns, keeping it a family destination and learning experience is a priority.

Discovery Pavilion is a new gathering point for tours overlooking the historic natural bridge for which the Caverns are named.  Discovery Village Trading Post, reminiscent of an 1880s trading post, offers one of the state’s best selections of rocks as well as minerals from all over the world.

Try the maze at Natural Bridge Caverns Discovery Village

Also in Discovery Village is the AMAZEn’ Ranch Roundup, one of the state’s only year-round, outdoor mazes. A fun challenge for individuals of all ages, the maze covers over 5,000 square feet with a viewing tower and a timed start and finish.  The new attraction tells a story commemorating family history and the site’s ranch heritage. The story centers on Reggie Wuest and his horse Dandy as they search for a lost spotted calf–and help guide visitors through the maze.

Big Daddy’s Sweets, Treats and Brew is an old-fashioned soda shop and general store named after Caverns founder and developer Harry Heidemann, who loved to cook and eat, especially sweets.  Big Daddy’s offers hand-dipped ice cream, specialty candy, coffees, beer, wine, and items for purchase such as décor, art, jewelry, western-themed merchandise, cowboy-style items, and much more.

Discovery Village is also the new home of Natural Bridge Mining Company, which has been renovated and updated as the Discovery Village Mining Company.  As Texas’ largest mining sluice, Discovery Village Mining Company offers the opportunity to pan for gems, minerals and fossils.

If you’re a bit daring, try the Canopy Challenge Adventure Course and Zip Lines that opened in 2012. Big kids and adults navigate a winding maze of 47 bridges, obstacles and balance beams while tethered to a cable for safety as they climb up the 60-foot four-tier adventure course. Little kids get a similar experience at a scaled-down Canopy Kids course. four zip lines give guests spectacular views of Texas Hill Country landscape while they soar along cables more than 1400 feet in the air.

Hidden Passages tour offers spectacular cave formations.

Hidden Passages tour offers spectacular cave formations.

With all the new fun, be sure to schedule in at least one of the cavern tours. The guided Discovery Tour takes visitors along the of the first explorers through Sherwood Forest, Castle of the White Giants, and Hall of the Mountain King, a room the size of a football field.  For really adventurous folks there’s three-hour “wild cave” tour where you negotiate obstacles through mud or on your tummy and climb up a 25-foot mid-covered slope.

For sheer beauty, take the Hidden Passages Tour to see delicate soda straws and pristine formations never exposed to outside air. Accessed by 180 steps and several landings at scenic points, this second cave is dramatically lit to maximize presentation of several glistening formations.

Located between San Antonio and Austin, Natural Bridge Caverns has become a destination where families can spend an entire day enjoying a variety of fun activities in the natural landscape of central Texas.

Photos courtesy of Discovery Village and by Beverly Burmeier