Texas Forts Trail Region

Participant in the Texas Historical Commission's
Texas Heritage Trails Program

Mason: Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve

Photo by TXDOT


An overnight or two in the town of Mason, gives visitors an opportunity to explore a very pretty countryside. Reserve a spot on an interpretive tour of the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve between May and mid-October and witness the nightly bat emergence from one of the largest bat nurseries in the country. The drive to the preserve, located approximately seventeen miles south of Mason, can be as memorable as the bat flight. The route snakes through prime Hill Country habitat before crossing the James along a natural limestone roadbed typically under at least a foot of water.

The bat cave, a Nature Conservancy Preserve, provides a home for approximately four million pregnant female Mexican free-tailed bats from May through September. Around June and July, the bats give birth to a single pup, increasing the cave’s population considerably. The young pups are able to fly at around five weeks old but remain with their mothers until the entire population returns to Mexico in October. The summer bat population, a vital part of the region’s ecology, emerges from the cave nightly around dusk to feed on flying insects. The sight is a remarkable phenomenon of nature and definitely one for the bucket list.


  • FM2389 and James River Road
  • Mason, Texas
  • 76856


Hours & Fees

  • Visit the Preserve mid-May to mid-October, Thursday through Sunday evenings from 6 - 9 p.m.

  • $5, Children 5 and under free

Map & Directions

Directions: Please call ahead to obtain local weather conditions and updates concerning the James River. This river is affected by flash flooding. Travel  on Hwy 87 about 16.5 miles south of Mason to the Preserve. Turn right on FM 1723, follow 2.4 miles to FM 2389. Turn right on FM 2389 for 4.8 miles to James River road, crossing 2 bridges. Turn right on James River road and go 8.3 miles to the Preserve. Watch for deer and cattle on this road. Continue on James River road to the James River crossing. Before you reach the James River, you will pass the Dalton J. woods paved turnoff to the right; do not turn, continue straight through this intersection. Cross the James River. The roadway actually fords the river here. Drive slowly; it can be slick here! Continue along the James River road about 1/2 mile until the road turns a sharp left; the gated entrance to the Bat Cave Preserve is to the right at this curve. Follow Bat Cave Preserve road to the parking.


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Read more about caves in the Handbook of Texas Online.