Visit private cave, see world’s largest bat colony just 20 minutes from San Antonio

Bracken Cave Preserve opens on few select days each year for bat flight viewing

BRACKEN, Texas – The world’s largest bat colony can be found just 20 minutes outside of San Antonio and there are select dates over the summer when you can visit.

During the summer months, a tornado of roughly 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerges from Bracken Bat Cave. The population swells around June after female bats give birth to a single pup.

“This vortex, a swirling ‘batnado,’ will start rising out of the sinkhole, and once they get up to the tree-top levels, they’ll start streaming away from the cave. They stay tight, like a river of bats, because of predators in the area,” Bracken Cave director Fran Hutchins previously told KSAT.

There are member nights and public events for anyone who wants to go see the “batnado” in action.

Bat Conservation International members with a $45 annual membership or anyone who signed up for the adopt-a-bat program and added a BCI membership may bring up to three guests to a member event. Members supporting BCI monthly or with a $60 or more annual membership may bring up to five guests to a member event.

Annual memberships range in price from $45 to $1500.

Members can attend one Member Bat Flight at Bracken each year for free.

Adult-only member nights and member morning returns include a $10 per person fee.

Public bat flights are $30 per person.

All proceeds go towards bat conservation and helping bats survive the most pressing threats, like habitat loss, starvation, and disease.

“They’re losing habitat like these caves that we have all over Central Texas. Wind farms are killing hundreds of thousands of bats every year, and now in Texas we have the fungus that causes the white- nose syndrome disease,” Hutchins said.

White-nose syndrome has become a concern for Texas bats. WNS is a deadly fungus that has killed millions of bats in North America and Canada, with some states seeing a 90% decrease in their bat populations.

The Bracken Cave bat colony is listed as a species of greatest concern and their loss could be devastating for the environment and the South Texas ecosystem, Hutchins said. Raising awareness and educating the public about the importance of bats is key to their sustainability and survival.

Hutchins said the colony at Bracken Cave eats somewhere in the neighborhood of 140-147 tons of insects when they go out to feed every night.

“Most of those insects are what we call ‘crop pests,’ and that’s going to save farmers in the Texas Hill Country hundreds of thousands of dollars every season,” Hutchins said.

This cuts down on the amount of pesticide farmers have to use for their crops, and in turn, helps keep chemicals out of the air and out of the food, which helps South Texas residents.

Bats are also considered a keystone species that is vital to certain ecosystems.

Without bats’ pollination and seed-dispersing services, local ecosystems could gradually collapse as plants fail to provide food and cover for wildlife species near the base of the food chain, according to

The schedule for bat flights listed below is from BCI and is subject to change:


  • Fri 12 (Member night)
  • Sat 13 (Member night)
  • Thu 18 (Member night)
  • Fri 19 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Thu 25 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)


  • Fri 2 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Tue 6 (Member night)
  • Thu 8 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Fri 9 (Member night)
  • Sun 11 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Wed 14 (Member night)
  • Sun 18 (Member night)
  • Wed 21 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Thu 22 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Sat 24 (Member night)
  • Sun 25 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Wed 28 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Thu 29 (Member night)
  • Fri 30 (Member night)


  • Thu 6 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Fri 7 (Member night)
  • Sat 8 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Sun 9 (Member night)
  • Thu 13 (Member night)
  • Fri 14 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Wed 19 (Member night)
  • Thu 20 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Sat 22 (Member Morning return, $10/pp)
  • Sun 23 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Wed 26 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Thu 27 (Member night)
  • Fri 28 (Member night)
  • Sat 29 (Member night)


  • Tue 1 (Member night)
  • Wed 2 (Member night)
  • Thu 3 (Member night)
  • Fri 4 (Member night)
  • Sat 5 (Member Morning return, $10/pp)
  • Sun 6 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Tue 8 (Member night)
  • Wed 9 (Member night)
  • Thu 10 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Sat 12 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Sun 13 (Member night)
  • Thu 17 (Member night)
  • Fri 18 (Public, $30/pp)
  • Fri 25 (Member Adult only, $10/pp)
  • Sat 26 (Member night)

Recommended Videos