With 2020 in the rearview mirror, Sonora Caverns officials have begun to see traffic increase.
Officials at the caverns say tourist numbers are on the rise as the country returns to normalcy.
Kristin Yakes, one of the managers at the Sonora Caverns, said business is starting to bounce back.
“We are seeing a more influx of people,” she said. “It’s nice. We are definitely getting more people coming in. More people are stopping by and making reservations. It’s coming back.”
Though the Sonora Caverns are open for business, there are lasting effects that patrons need to be aware of from the coronavirus. Masks are required inside the gift shop and in the caverns.
“It has picked back up quite a bit,” Patti Landrum, one of the managers at the Sonora Caverns, said. “I’ve been really happy with the numbers coming in.”
Since the Sonora Caverns are still an active cave and privately owned, there are tour guides for all trips inside. The Sonora Caverns are currently allowing six people per tour. Prior to the coronavirus, there were 12 people allowed per tour.
Cost for a person 12 years and older is $20, while 4 years to 11 years old is $16 and children 4 years and younger is free. Hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. from March 1 to Labor Day and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Tuesday after Labor Day to Feb. 29. The tour takes about a little over an hour.
Oscar Gutierrez, who has been a tour guide at the Sonora Caverns for the last six months, took members of the Odessa American and showed them the Hilton Room, Sponge Rooms, Devil’s Pit, Bear Claw Passage Butterfly Room and Surprise Room.
“If you love working with some great people and if you love geology, this is the place to go,” Gutierrez said. “This is the place to visit.”
There are 360 steps inside the Sonora Caverns with a deepest part of the cave at 155 feet. The distance is two miles with a temperature inside the cave at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The only live creatures found in the Sonora Caverns will be cave crickets.
The Sonora Caverns are still an active cave so stalactites and stalagmites continue to grow. The Sonora Caverns helped enact legislation for cavern protection. It’s a state jail felony to break off, crack, carve upon, write, burn, mark up, remove, destroy, disturb, deface, mar or harm the surfaces of any cave or any natural material in a cave. That felony can increase to a third-degree felony if the person has been previously convicted of violating that law.
Gutierrez said the cave protection law helps maintain the integrity of the Sonora Caverns.
“It’s a special place,” he said.
For about a two-month period in 2020, the Sonora Caverns were closed due to the coronavirus.
Sonora Caverns closed March 19 and reopened in May. That meant the privately owned cavern missed out on one of its busiest times of the year — spring break. Yakes said it was tough to be closed for an extended period of time.
“It hurt the business significantly,” Yakes said. “Economically we are still trying to recover from it. We were still here answering phones, but it was very sad for us not to allow people into the cave, but things are starting to bounce back. I’m happy about that.”
If you go
- What: Sonora Caverns.
- Where: 1711 Private Rd 4468, Sonora, TX 76950.
- More information: cavernsofsonora.com
- Cost: $20 for persons 12 years and older, $16 for 4 years to 11 years old and free for children 4 years and younger.