Friends Appreciation Trip
Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve
In honor of your support of Balcones NWR and the Friends of Balcones NWR group, you’re invited to a very special Friends Appreciation trip! We will be visiting the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve near Mason to watch the spectacular evening bat emergence. This preserve, owned by The Nature Conservancy, protects a maternity colony of 4-6 million Mexican Free-tailed Bats. Each spring, mother bats arrive to the cave ready to give birth to their pup after overwintering south of the border. About 6 weeks after the pups are born, they are ready to fly and begin emerging from the cave each night to feed. During the emergence, red-tailed hawks, raccoons, and coachwhip snakes are often waiting to catch an emerging bat. Great-horned owls, peregrine falcons, Central Texas whipsnakes, and grey foxes are also occasionally seen. This little-known preserve offers a unique and fantastic experience that is not to be missed!
Entrance Fee: There is a $5 per person donation fee that helps to support the bats and the management of the Preserve. Children 5 and under are free.
Details: This is a remote wilderness preserve. There is a short walk from the parking lot to the viewing area which is not wheelchair accessible, and there are no amenities on site (no bathrooms, water, food, etc.). There is a shaded viewing area with seating near the emergence.
Getting there: Carpooling is recommended, if possible, because the parking lot is relatively small. Additionally, there is a shallow river crossing at the James River, and, although most cars can cross safely (unless the river is up from rain or flooding), vehicles with a little more clearance are preferred, such as any SUV or truck. If you need directions to the Preserve, please go to the EJR Bat Cave Preserve web site below.
Caravan to the Preserve: If you’d like to caravan with the group to the Preserve, please plan to meet at Santos Taqueria in Mason (for directions, see website below) at a time TBD (timing depends on the emergence times during that week, and we will send more specific details as the event gets closer). We will drive out together as a group, stopping occasionally along the road if there is something particularly interesting to see.
If you wish to carpool from Mason to the Preserve (or if you are willing to drive and let others ride with you): Please plan to meet at Willow Creek Cafe in Mason at a time TBD (timing depends on the emergence times during that week, and we will send more specific details as the event gets closer). We will do our best to accommodate everyone wishing to carpool with someone from Mason to the Preserve.
If you do not wish to caravan with the group, please plan to arrive to the Preserve when the gate opens (timing will depending on emergence time and we will email this time to everyone as the event gets closer). Note that it takes about 45 min to drive to the Preserve from Mason, depending on how fast or slow you drive. About half of the drive is on well-maintained dirt county roads that are passible with any vehicle.
Please register ALL family members/guests
Check at bottom of registration page if you want to carpool from Austin/Marble Falls area to Mason