When most people think of Texas—they think of 10 gallon hats. Texas Longhorn cattle, and “Austin City Limits”. Texas is home to many beautiful natural wonders that are just as stunning as any attraction in America’s most celebrated National Parks. The Caverns of Sonora contain some of the strangest and most exquisite mineral deposits in North America. A portion of the Caverns of Sonora is named the Crystal Palace because the calcite crystal formations sparkle like an enchanted castle.
A famous spelunker once said that the Caverns of Sonora was the the most beautiful cave in the world, and that its beauty couldn’t be exaggerated—not even by Texas standards. In the early 1900s, the Caverns of Sonora was referred to as the Mayfield Cave, since it was located on the Mayfield family ranch. In 1955, a group of cave explorers from Dallas journeyed to the depths of the cave, and discovered many beautiful and otherworldly rock formations—including a rock that looked like several strips of bacon fresh from the package.
A geologist named Jim Papadakis became fascinated with the Mayfield Cave, and named it the Secret Cave. By the late 1950s, vandals regularly visited the Secret Cave and left their mark. Jim decided the best way to preserve his beloved Secret Cave was to build a staircase and offer guided tours. Jim hired his friend Jack Burch to install lights and help create trails. In 1960, Jim made a deal to lease the land that the cave was located on from the Mayfield family. The nearby town of Sonora seemed like the best option for a name. In 1961, the Caverns of Sonora opened to the public.
Sadly, the most famous cave formation in the Caverns of Sonora—a delicate calcite “butterfly”—was damaged in 2006 by a vandal. Jim’s efforts to protect the Caverns of Sonora from human harm hasn’t been 100% effective.
The Caverns of Sonora still have countless delightful and bizarre mineral deposits that captivate thousands of visitors every year. The bulbous mounds of iridescent rock will make you feel as though you have stumbled upon the home of the Fraggles. I bet it never occurred to you that the Fraggles might be Texans. The Caverns of Sonora are a wonderful lesser known jewel deep in the heart of Texas. The clear aquifers and glistening cave formations of the Caverns of Sonora will populate your dreams long after you visit.
1711 Private Road