Tucked away on the outskirts of Fredericksburg, Texas is a 920-foot tunnel from an old railroad track that now houses millions of Mexican free-tailed bats and thousands of cave myotis bats during the summer months beginning around May. Old Tunnel State Park is the smallest state park in Texas, however, what hides inside is truly a hidden gem.
History of Old Tunnel State Park
The 920-foot tunnel that is now the namesake of Old Tunnel State Park was built in 1913 and owned by the Fredericksburg and Northern Railway to enable railway trade between San Antonio and Fredericksburg. The railway was removed in 1942 and sold for scrap due to failure to make a profit. Shortly after a colony of bats moved in.
In 1991 the land was acquired by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) then transferred to the State Parks Division in 2012. Even though it is now a state park, the Wildlife Division maintains some management oversight of the area in order to comply with U.S. Fish and Wildlife grant stipulations.
Amenities / Features
1/2 mile hiking trail – The hiking trail includes many stairs and will take you right in front of the tunnel, however, you cannot leave the trail for a closer view of the tunnel. Open Sunrise – 5pm.
Restrooms – only open during the evening hours of bat season (May-October)
Bat Viewing Areas – There is an upper (free) and lower bat viewing area. The upper area is free and limited to 250 people. The lower viewing area is available Thursday-Sunday at $5/per person (as of March 2018) ages 4 and over only. Those under 4 are not allowed in the lower viewing area.
The Tunnel’s Secret
The Old Tunnel is now home to over 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats and 3,000 cave myotis bats every summer from May to October.
If you plan on seeing the bats emerge, make sure to arrive early, as they do not take reservations and the upper viewing deck is limited to 250 people!
Things to Know Before You Go!
Smoking is not allowed within the park.
Pets are NOT allowed within the park (make sure to leave them at home, not in your hot car)!
There is no water available, make sure to bring your own!
The park is open from Sunrise – 5pm.
There is no entrance fee, however, if you wish to be in the lower bat viewing area at sunset from May-October there is a small fee which is considered a tour fee. Due to this, you cannot use your park pass to waive this fee as it is a tour fee, not an entrance fee.
Tickets for the lower viewing area are sold Thursday – Sunday evenings beginning around 5:30 p.m.
Only Cash and Check are accepted. Change cannot be made, so if you are paying the tour fee in cash you will need to bring the exact amount.
For latest bat emergence time information, Call (866) 978-2287
Address: 10619 Old San Antonio Road, Fredericksburg, TX 78624