Old Tunnel State Park
Things to Do
Visitors can enjoy hiking, bird-watching, and general wildlife-viewing on the Old Tunnel nature trail, which is less than one-half mile in length and open to the public 365 days a year. The trail opens at sunrise and closes at varying times throughout the year based on bat emergence time. Monday through Wednesday evenings, May through October, the trail and lower viewing area are not open to the public. On Thursday through Sunday evenings, the trail is open to those visitors who pay admission to view the bats at the lower viewing area. The trail is primitive and can be steep. Visitors should carry their own drinking water and snacks, as no water, food, or man-made shelter is available on the trail. No water fountains or other water is available on-site. No pets, or smoking, are allowed at this park.
Although entrance into the tunnel is prohibited, visitors are encouraged to enjoy the view of the tunnel from the trail. In order to minimize disturbance to the bat colony and for the safety of our visitors, all guests must stay on the designated trail. Under no conditions are visitors allowed to approach the tunnel.
The abandoned railroad tunnel that gives Old Tunnel its name is home to up to 3 million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasilienses mexicana) and 3,000 cave myotis (Myotis velifer) bats from May through October. During those months, visitors come to watch the bats emerge from the tunnel each night. Bat-viewing opportunities are available seven nights a week, and nightly educational presentations are given Thursday through Sunday. Call (866) 978-2287 to get the latest emergence time information.
Several educational exhibits with information on bats and railroad history are located along the half-mile trail, and from May through October bats can sometimes be seen flying within the tunnel. The nightly educational programs provide guests with a better understanding of the life history and ecology of bats.
Bat trunks are available for teachers, individuals or organizations to borrow. Education materials include classroom curricula for all age classes, amazing videos, and a slide presentation. Demonstration materials consist of a taxidermic bat, a bat detector, posters, and many other neat hands-on items. For reference, Bat Conservation International's Bat House Builder's Handbook, 'Bats in Question', and 'Facts on the Fly' are part of the trunks. For a list of trunks available in Texas please visit Bat Trunk Resources.
School and Organizational Presentations. If you would like for a biologist to visit your school or organization to give an educational presentation on bats of Texas and/or bats and the environment, please see the list of available presentations below and e-mail the park for more information and scheduling opportunities (Program dates and times are subject to biologist/volunteer availability).
- Presentation: Bats of Texas (Kids and Adults) - Open to all groups
- Bat Habitat and Limiting Factors - 6th Grade Science
- Bats and the Environment - 4th Grade
- Puppets and Bat Program- 1st and 2nd Grades, and Libraries
- Busy Bug Bodies – Pre-K through 2nd Grades.
Kids will learn about bugs and the role they play in nature. The program will include costumed characters, a finger puppet show, preserved bug displays, reading a bug story, and some hands on activities like looking at bugs with magnifiers and microscopes and finally ending with a bug song/dance.
- Distance Learning Programs (via Skype):
- Introduction to Bats - Grades K through 6th
- Mammals of Texas - 5th and 6th Grades
- Conservation as a Career- 5th and 6th Grades