How do you feel about bats? Super cool? Cute and fluffy? Get them away from me? If your answer is favorable, you’re in luck! The Texas Hill Country is the ideal destination for bat lovers. Just up the road from Boerne is the smallest State Park in Texas (16.1 acres). While making Boerne your hill country hub, you will not want to miss out on an evening at Old Tunnel State Park.
Every night from May to October, a seasonal colony of 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge to feast on insects across the night sky. This has grown to be a highly anticipated attraction each year that delights nature lovers. We’ve compiled a list of tips and recommendations to maximize your bat viewing experience.
- Park entry is free but reservations are required to stay after 5:00 pm. Purchase your “Park Permits” online in advance. Weekends book up quickly, so plan ahead and be prepared to present them (printed or on your phone) at the gate after 5:00 pm! Permits are not sold on-site.
- Viewing areas: There’s an upper and lower viewing area. Both areas and the trail to access them are ADA accessible. Children 4 years old and younger are not allowed in the lower area.
- Arrive early: It’s recommended that guests arrive one hour prior to the earliest posted emergence time. Limited permits are sold, so you will have a spot.
- Enjoy the pre-flight educational program offered by park staff and volunteers. This program kicks-off 45 minutes before emergence each evening.
- When do the bats emerge? Call ahead for a report on current emergence times. The bat hotline is (866) 978-2287.
- Keep tabs on the park’s Facebook Page. Their posts will give information regarding park closing due to weather and the most up-to-date bat emergence times.
- Bring a pair of binoculars. These can help with bat viewing.
- Bats don’t tend to emerge in heavy rain. Take note that there are no refunds or rain checks if you do not see bats or if the park closes due to weather.
- Read “Frankie the Free-tailed Bat” for free online before your visit to get little ones even more excited about the experience!
- Grab a burger at Alamo Springs Café for dinner while you’re out that way. They are epic! Texas Monthly named them one of the 50 best burgers in Texas!
Written by Tori Bellos, Marketing, Boerne Convention and Visitors Bureau
Photo Credit and Source: Texas Parks and Wildlife ©Chase Fountain, TPWD
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