Inner Space Cavern
Highway I-35, exit 259
For years I watched wistfully during trips to Austin as billboards for Inner Space Cavern slid past the windows. This time I held the car keys, informing my family that yes, we were stopping, prepared to quell any arguments with the information that the temperature inside the cave was 72 degrees F. Seventy-two degrees on a day when the outside temperature was forecast to top 100 -- how could anybody in Texas object?
We used our AAA memberships to get a discount on the price of tickets to the Adventure Tour -- the shortest one, at approximately an hour and fifteen minutes. The map inside showed the total trip was three-fourths of a mile, which seemed an easy walk.
Contrary to some internet information, the cave’s entrance, at least for our easy tour, was by inclined ramp rather than cable car. As we walked toward the dark opening, the interior air wafted out, blissfully cool. I almost wondered if somebody had forgotten to close the refrigerator door.
My family followed instructions at the website, www.myinnerspacecavern.com/, to wear comfortable walking shoes (at least, we all had the equivalent of tennis shoes). Some members of our tour showed in flip-flops and crocs and weren’t turned away. And after all, it was less than a mile round trip -- what could it matter? I actually wondered how we’d manage to more than an hour on such a short trip.
But three-fourths of a mile up and down the cavern’s damp and sometimes slippery walkways, even though graded, is different from the same distance on level ground. And the porous limestone rock overlaying the cave dripped liberally. Who would have thought dry Texas soil could hold so much water?.
The ceiling drips are the reason for the rock formations inside -- stalactites on the
ceilings, stalagmites on the floor, sometimes joined into columns, sometimes what our guide called “kissing,” near-touching chandeliers and pillars doomed not to meet for another thousand years. And there are the multiple rooms of “soda straws” -- miniature stalactites covering ceilings like popcorn gone wild, each with a drop of water trembling at its tip. And the curtains and waterfalls of frozen stone. With discreet lighting, reflections from crystal-clear pools doubled the effects.
Obviously, the humidity inside is high -- greater than 90 percent. By the end of the trip, we felt drenched, even without splashing in the puddles our guide steered us around. We all made it out without complications, although signs warned the damp may cause difficulty for some visitors with respiratory problems. And the walkways are not accessible to wheelchairs or strollers.
The boys, just out of kindergarten, were fascinated by their first caving experience. But really, skip the flip-flops. Check the website for hours, rates, and discounts. And remember to bring a camera.
Also, the downtown Dallas Public Library, 1515 Young Street, shows family matinees Saturdays and Sundays during August. Shows start at 2 p.m. Free. Call 214-670-1671 during open hours (10-5 today) for this weekend’s shows.