Caverns of Sonora

Useful Information

Location: Texas. 13 km west of Sonora. I-10, exit 392, 10 km down Ranch Road 6198.
Open: MAR to SEP daily 8-18. OCT to FEB daily 9-17. [2006]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave cave system.
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=3,375 m, VR=37 m, T=21 °C, A=680 m asl.
Guided tours: Crystal Palace Tour: D=100 min, L=3,200 m, VR=37 m, St=232.
Horseshoe Lake Tour: D=75 min, L=2,010 m.
Bibliography: Gordon Messling, Brenda Messling (1978): Caverns Of Sonora, Published by the Authors, Sonora, Texas, 44 pp, 34 colour photos, SB.
Address: Caverns of Sonora, PO Box 1196, Sonora, TX 76950, Tel. +1-325-387-3105 or +1-915-387-6507, Fax: +1-915-387-6508. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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~1900 according to legend discovered by a hunter who was out hunting on the Mayfield Ranch.
1920s two teenagers explored a short way into the cave using candles.
1950s explored by the Mayfields.
1959 first opened to the public.
1991 start of the Annual Restauration Project.
21-NOV-2006 the famous Butterfly of the Sonora is vandalized by a cave visitor.


The Caverns of Sonora are famous for many The most famous single Helictite is named Butterfly of the Sonora after its characteristic form. Even rarer are the anthodites, which are found in this cave.

The visitors can choose between two tour. The Horseshoe Lake Tour covers the historic areas and the northern areas of the cavern. The Crystal Palace Tour is the longer one, including the Horseshoe Lake Tour. It also shows the Big Hilton Room, the passage up to Halo Lake, and the entire eastern branch of the cave, called Crystal Palace. There are also special tours available for groups of twelve or more by advance reservation. There is an educational tour for school classes or boy scouts and cave trekking tours for the more adventurous and physically fit visitors.

During the development of the cave, tons of debris have been packed into pits and passages, to be out of the way. Since 1991 the Annual Caverns of Sonora Restauration Project once a year cavers remove some of the debris from the cave in order to restore its original state. So far (2005) 194 tons of debris have been removed, 139 tons alone from a shaft called Devil's Pit.

The Caverns of Sonora are unique, I know of no other cave in the world, open to the public which contain such a wealth of speleothems which can be seen at such close proximity to the visitor. Sadly this has resulted in some vandalism by the visitors.

Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.