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This Secret Waterfall In The Heart Of Texas Hill Country Is Just Like Lord Of The Rings

Hidden in the heart of Texas Hill Country, there’s a magical spot where ancient limestone grottos and lush forests create a breathtaking landscape. 

You’ll definitely feel like you’ve stepped into a mythical land from Lord of the Rings!

Picture yourself walking through scenic trails, hearing the gentle rush of a waterfall and spotting unique wildlife along the way. 

This place is a true haven for nature lovers and offers a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. 

Get ready to uncover the wonders of this enchanting natural retreat!

Where Is It?

This amazing place is called the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center. 

It’s located in the beautiful Texas Hill Country, about 45 minutes west of Austin. 

Located near the Pedernales River, this nature preserve is close to the small towns of Round Mountain and Dripping Springs. 

The center is surrounded by rolling hills, lush greenery and stunning views that make it feel like a hidden oasis. 

Whether you’re coming from Austin or other nearby cities like Dripping Springs and Marble Falls, the journey to Westcave is as scenic as the destination itself.

Here’s the exact address: 24814 Hamilton Pool Road, Round Mountain, TX, 78663


The Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is a special nature preserve dedicated to protecting and showcasing the natural beauty of Texas Hill Country. 

It’s a 76-acre paradise that combines education and conservation, making it a perfect spot for people who love nature and want to learn more about it. 

At Westcave, you’ll find a unique blend of habitats including a lush grotto, a limestone canyon and a rich savanna. 

It feels like stepping into another world!

The highlight of the center, for sure, is the stunning grotto with its clear blue pool and cascading 40-ft waterfall. 

This area feels like a hidden oasis with moss-covered rocks and delicate ferns creating a truly magical atmosphere. 

You won’t believe you’re still in Texas!

You can even enter the cave which is located behind the waterfall.

Z.Wade / Flickr

The canyon is another breathtaking feature with its high limestone walls and diverse plant life.

The center also has a lovely upland savanna which is a wide, open area filled with native grasses and wildflowers. 

Nathaniel / Flickr

This part of the preserve offers sweeping views of the surrounding landscape and is home to many different species of birds and other wildlife.

One of the main goals of the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center is to educate visitors about the importance of conservation. 

They offer guided tours and educational programs for all ages and focus on topics like geology, ecology and local wildlife. 

Justin Leigh Shaw / Flickr

If you visit Westcave, you can expect to see incredible natural beauty, learn a lot about the environment and have a relaxing and enjoyable time in the great outdoors. 

Things To Do

There are lots of fun and exciting things to do at the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center. 

Here are some of the best activities you can enjoy:

Guided Tours

One of the best ways to explore Westcave is by joining a guided tour. 

The knowledgeable guides will take you through the preserve, showing you the most beautiful spots and teaching you about the local plants, animals and geology. 

These tours are both fun and educational so are perfect for families, school groups or anyone curious about nature.


There are several trails you can hike at Westcave. 

The main trail leads you through the savanna, down into the canyon and finally to the breathtaking grotto which features a 40-ft waterfall that pours into an emerald pool.

It takes around 1.5 – 2 hours and is rated as moderate to difficult.

Along the way, you’ll see a variety of plants and maybe even some wildlife. 

Please note that to access the canyon, cave and grotto, you’ll need to join a guided tour.

You can hike through the upland savanna area on your own without a guide.

This trail takes you through tall grasses, gardens and you even get the chance to see an old cabin that dates back to the early 1900s.

Bird Watching

Westcave is a great place for bird watching. 

The diverse habitats attract many different bird species so bring along your binoculars and see how many you can spot. 

The savanna area is especially good for seeing birds like hawks, woodpeckers and songbirds.


With its stunning landscapes and unique features, Westcave is a photographer’s dream. 

Whether you’re an amateur with a smartphone or a professional with a fancy camera, you’ll find plenty of beautiful scenes to capture. 

The grotto, in particular, is a popular spot for taking amazing photos.


There are picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. 

It’s a great way to take a break and soak in the peaceful atmosphere of the preserve. 

Just remember to pack out all your trash to keep the area clean and beautiful.


Westcave also offers stargazing events on certain nights. 

Away from the city lights, the night sky here is incredibly clear so it’s perfect for viewing stars, planets and even the Milky Way. 

These events often include telescopes and expert guides to help you understand what you’re seeing.

Know Before You Go

Before you head out to the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center, there are a few important things you should know.

Opening Times

Tours are available at Westcave most days including weekends.

The hours do vary so it’s a good idea to check their website or call ahead to confirm tour times and availability.


There are a variety of tours available at different price ranges.

You can only visit the canyon, cave and grotto on a guided tour but the savannah area can be visited without a tour.

The standard Guided Canyon Tour costs $20 per adult and $10 per child. This tour also gives you access to the uplands savanna area for free.

If you just want to visit the uplands savanna area then it’s $5 per person.

It is a non-profit organization so the fee helps support the maintenance and conservation of the preserve. 

Please note that reservations are required so make sure to book ahead on their website.


There is a parking area available for visitors. 

Parking is free but spaces can be limited, especially on busy weekends. 

It’s best to arrive early to ensure you get a spot.

Westcave recommends that you don’t use ride share apps like Uber or Lyft to get there as their location is outside the service range for pickups so you may be stranded.


Unfortunately, pets are not allowed at Westcave.

What to Bring

– Water and Snacks: Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially during hot weather. Snacks are also a good idea to keep your energy up during your visit.

– Comfortable Shoes: Wear sturdy, comfortable shoes suitable for walking on trails and uneven ground.

– Sun Protection: Bring a hat, sunglasses and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, especially if you plan to spend a lot of time in the open savanna area.

– Bug Spray: Depending on the season, insects can be present so bringing bug spray is a good idea.


The trails at Westcave include some uneven terrain and a 125 step staircase, making them less accessible for visitors with mobility issues. 

Strollers are also not allowed in the canyon, grotto or cave due to the staircase and nature of the trail.


– Stay on the Trails: To protect the natural environment, always stay on designated trails and follow the signs.

– No Littering: Pack out everything you bring in. There are trash and recycling bins available throughout the preserve.

– Respect Wildlife: Observe animals from a distance and do not feed or disturb them.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared for a fantastic visit to the Westcave Outdoor Discovery Center. 

Enjoy your adventure in this beautiful natural haven!

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Tom Jackson

Tom was born in San Antonio but spent most of his childhood in Dallas, he has lived in several cities across Texas and joined the team in 2024 to create travel guides on Texas.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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