Texas is known for many natural landmarks including the beauty of its Hill Country as well as the parks that can be found within cities such as San Antonio. No matter where one travels around this state, it seems that there's always something to explore or observe. One of those such places is none other than the Devil's Sinkhole, and its reputation has been bringing visitors to Rocksprings for centuries.
While it appears to be an ordinary (albeit, incredibly deep) hole in the earth, its history spans back to the Native Americans who first lived on the land. From then, its legend grew and grew, and today, many people can learn about it on any number of tours given in the area.
The Expansive History Of The Devils (Sink)Hole
The Devil's Sinkhole, sometimes simply referred to as the Devil's Hole, has had significant recognition since 1985 when it was declared a National Natural Landmark. It has a staggering depth of 400 feet, with an opening that measures roughly 40 by 60 feet. With that being said, it's pretty hard to miss - especially when the surrounding area is fairly desolate save for the occasional tumbleweed or low-dwelling tree. The sinkhole was once part of the geographical area known as the Edwards Plateau before it simply collapsed, leaving a massive void spanning 400 feet into the earth. What's even more fascinating is that this limestone center is only the beginning of what has been discovered to be a system of underground caves. The main cavern exists roughly 140 down in a sheer drop to the bottom with its surrounding tunnels reaching the deepest depths of 300-400 feet under the surface.
In the past, unique archeological finds such as arrowheads and remains have been found. These point to the site being used as a sacred site and burial ground for the Native American tribes that once lived in the area, as these types of natural formations were usually considered to be sacred. According to Atlas Obscura, it was believed that openings in the earth such as these were considered to be gateways to the underworld. There are other signs of early life around the sinkhole such as evidence of prehistoric campsites, as well as darts that are dated to be from as early as 3500 B.C. Inside the cave, stalactites can be found and many of these have been found in the surrounding area, as it's surmised that early visitors may have taken them out of the underground caverns as parting gifts. According to Texas Beyond History, a total of 21 prehistoric sites have been found in and around the Devil's Sinkhole. As well as being a sacred site, these findings tell experts that the site was a haven for tool-making and supplies needed to craft certain items.
As time went on and others found out about the area, it became somewhat of a novelty. Cowboys of the southwest often left behind their names or messages which were easily deciphered on the limestone walls of the caves themselves.
The Devil's Sinkhole Today
Despite its somewhat unnerving name, the sinkhole is nothing more than a significant historic location on what is now a 1,859-acre nature preserve. If nothing else, it has become a fascinating example of how everything in nature was used in full during the prehistoric era, and how this method of survival continued to remain the same for the early Native American tribes in the area. The sinkhole was a wealth of usable rocks, minerals, and crafting supplies, which is what initially brought so many people to its depths.
- Fun Fact: Today, it's home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats that often come out in clouds of dizzying numbers at dusk.
Today, visitors to the sinkhole can hear about all of this history and more on one of the site's many tours. The only way to see the Devil's Sinkhole is via one of these tours which must be booked in advance, as they do fill up quickly and are not offered daily. The area itself is not open to the public unless a reservation is made first as it's not only protected land, but it's also quite dangerous for those who are unfamiliar with the sinkhole and the surrounding area. Those interested in touring the sinkhole can contact the Devils Sinkhole Society at 830-683-2287.
Hours Of Operation For Tours
- Closed Monday & Tuesday
- Wednesday 10 AM - 3 PM
- Thursday - Sunday 12 PM - 3 PM
Getting To The Devils Sinkhole
Those who have a tour booked for the Devil's Sinkhole will meet at the Rocksprings visitor's center which can be found at 101 N. Sweeten Street in Rocksprings. The Devil's Sinkhole State Natural Area is also only accessible via a guided tour.