From May to October, Old Tunnel Wildlife Management Area is home to about 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats and 3,000 Cave myotis bats. Each night during this time, the bats spiral upwards once or twice outside the tunnel entrance before streaming out to feed on insects. Aerial predators, such as Red-tailed Hawks, are sometimes seen feeding on fallen bats as they emerge. Terrestrial (land) predators, such as raccoons are also sometimes seen feeding on fallen bats. Watching the emergence of millions of Mexican free-tailed bats is a special and unique experience.Even when bats are not present at the Old Tunnel, visitors can enjoy the railbed trail and see the tunnel that changed the history in the Hill Country.
Help safeguard this colony
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department acquired this property in 1991 to protect and preserve the bat colony. As more people come to see the bats, the possibility of disturbance is increased. This might cause the bats to abandon the roost. Biologists have learned much from research performed here at the Old Tunnel. You can help save the bats and our chance to enjoy the spectacular nightly emergence by following these simple guidelines:
· Please stay on designated trails and away from tunnel entrance
· Refrain from throwing rocks or any other objects at emerging bats
· Do not shine bright lights (flashlights, camera flash, video lights) on the emerging bats
· Please keep voices down before and during the emergence
· Stay behind all barrier cables and fences
A half-mile trail follows the historic railbed and includes a view of the tunnel, native plants and animals.
Nov-April, open sunrise to sunset.
May-Oct, open sunrise. Trail closes at varied times based on bat emergence time.
Trail surface is loose and steep in places. Use caution.
Bat emergence can be viewed nightly from the upper viewing area to your right. Staff and volunteers are available to answer questions from May to October. There is no charge for this activity.
Lower deck viewing: From May to October, Thursday thru Sunday evenings, visitors can enjoy a close-up view of the bat emergence at the lower deck. Prior to the emergence, staff and volunteers provide a unique program about bats and railroad history. A fee is charged and seating is limited to the first 70 people.Special group tours: Available by special arrangement for a fee. For tours and questions call 866-978-2287.
Special group tours: Available by special arrangement for a fee. For tours and questions call 866-978-2287.
For emergencies, call 911