Friday, March 19 Through Monday, March 22, 2021
Kickapoo Cavern State Park has two main attractions: Kickapoo Cavern and bats. Due to Covid restrictions, Kickapoo Cavern tours were suspended until further notice. While some bats did emerge (more on that later), March is generally outside the season for large bat flights at dusk. It is simply too cold for most Mexican Free Tailed Bats.
The park is located in the Hill Country region of Texas and has all of the beloved features of Texas Hill Country parks. It has rugged arid terrain punctuated by deep canyons and tall hills. Historically, ranching had been the primary economic driver in the region. This park was a successful sheep ranching operation before its owner, Kinney County Judge Tommy Seargeant passed it onto the state.
Signs of the park’s former life as a thriving sheep operation persist. Water troughs, collection (windmills) and distribution systems (pipes) are found throughout the park.
The park is currently open Friday through Monday. Wildlife can be seen in campgrounds on Friday, disappear by Saturday and return Sunday night. Birds, rabbits, deer and armadillos seem plentiful; the usual Hill Country wildlife.
The unusual wildlife that is plentiful in warmer months are Mexican Free Tailed Bats. Unfortunately for us, we were too early in the year to see mass bat emergences where hundreds of thousands of bats start emerging from their cave just before the end of twilight. Only a few bats had migrated up from Mexico. It was just too cold. However, we did see an emergence of one hundred or so bats.
Toward sundown, people started gathering at the Stuart Bat Cave in preparation for their emergence. A park police officer observed the bat emergence to ensure bats and human safety.
There are rules for visitors to follow as they observe bat emergences. One of the most important rules is don’t cross the metal pipe barrier.
The parking lot holds at most ten vehicles and filled up the Saturday night we attended. The bat cave is between one and two miles from the campground. Returning to the campground after a bat emergence will be done in the dark so cars and pedestrians need to be careful and aware of each other. The park is REALLY DARK AT NIGHT.
This is a dark sky park meaning that it is an excellent place to look up into the night sky for amazing views of the milky way.
The park has a large network of trails. Some trails are more strenuous than others, a common feature of Hill Country parks. Beautiful views are around every corner waiting to be discovered.
The park is very clean. Almost zero trash. This may be due in part to the park’s “hike it out” policy. There are no trashcans in the park. Visitors, including overnight guests, must pack out their trash when they leave.
Park rangers were helpful and nice. Friday and Saturday nights park police sporadically patrolled the campgrounds.
The park is well maintained. The maintenance barn is next to the ranger station. The barn isn’t really fully enclosed. The park service added fencing material to fill in the open spots. Besides keeping their equipment safe, the fencing lets visitors see all their equipment and tools. This helps people better understand the complexity of maintaining and running a state park.
All of the campsites were being used Friday night. In general, the park seemed to have more overnight guests Friday and Saturday night based on the number of empty campsites Sunday night. Very few of the water and electric sites were occupied Sunday night.
Since the park is only open Friday through Monday, campers can claim their campsite Friday morning at 8:00 AM and don’t have to leave it until 4:30 PM Monday. This assumes that the campsite reservation was for three nights (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Normally, parks don’t let campers claim their spot until 2:00 PM arrival day and must be out by 11:00 AM on go-home day.
The public restrooms are located on the main park road within a quick walk of the ranger station. Restrooms are clean and well maintained. The campground has 15 campsites which is small for a state park. Each restroom (Men and Women) is a two seater with a single shower.
The campsites are situated in a half circle behind and up the hill from the restrooms. Only the five campsites closest to the public restroom have water, sewer and electric. The remaining campsites are water and electric only. The above full hookup campsite is directly up the hill from the restroom.
One problem with having a full hookup site is that campers from other sites will walk through occupied full hookup sites. This is done to avoid walking around the campground to reach the restrooms. Friday night, well after dark, a group tried to walk through our campsite. They woke us up while knocking down our portable dog fences.
Generally campsites are not level. The longer the vehicle, the harder to level. In the above site, the truck was short enough that when parked at the end of the parking spot, it was level enough.
There is no mobile phone service in the campground. Intermittent or sporadic mobile signals may be found while hiking at higher elevations in the park. No over-the-air broadcast television signals either. The park does provide limited WIFI. Bandwidth issues make the WIFI difficult to use when the ranger station is open.
The dump station is easy to find. It is in the middle of the main park road. Visitors pass it on the way to the ranger station.
The park is between Brackettville and Rocksprings on a narrow two-lane road with sketchy shoulders. Our truck and camper, an eight foot wide dually, took all of the available space between shoulder and center line. RVs that are 8.5 feet wide might find the road a bit challenging as they will need to make room for oncoming traffic by moving right past the shoulder. Fortunately the park’s entrance is only 23 miles from Brackettville.
This was our first time in this park. We will definitely be staying here again. The park is only a three hour drive of our home in San Antonio. It is also a wonderful place to visit with great trails, bats and caves.
Hope to see you on the road ahead!