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A Side Trip to the Caverns of Sonora

Hidden in the middle of nowhere, some 75 miles from San Angelo, are the delightful Caverns of Sonora. Designated a Registered Natural Landmark by the National Park Service in 1966, these truly magnificent caves are privately owned and can be explored only on guided tours. You'll see glistening draperies, miles of puffy popcorn, millions of helictites and soda straws, and reflecting pools, plus all the usual stalagmites and stalactites in a wildly fascinating collage of formations. The caverns' signature formation is an unusual helictite shaped like a butterfly. The tour is 2 miles long and takes about 2 hours; admission is $20 adults, $16 children 4 to 11, and free for kids 3 and under.

The caverns are open daily from 8am to 6pm March through Labor Day, and from 9am to 5pm the rest of the year, except Christmas Day. From San Angelo, go south on U.S. 277 for 64 miles to the small town of Sonora, then 8 miles west on I-10 to exit 392, then follow signs south to the caverns. For additional information, contact Caverns of Sonora (tel. 325/387-3105; www.cavernsofsonora.com).

Camping in an attractive tree-shaded campground is available at the caverns. Other than that, the nearest lodging, dining, and other services are in Sonora. For information, contact the Sonora Chamber of Commerce, 205 U.S. 277 (P.O. Box 1172), Sonora, TX 76950-1172 (tel. 888/387-2880 or 325/387-2880; www.sonoratx-chamber.com).

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.