In the heart of Texas, an hour’s drive northwest of Fredericksburg, the Eckert James River Bat Cave Preserve is the summer roosting place for four to six million Mexican free-tailed bats (Tadarida brasiliensis).

Bat Viewing Site. Eckhert James River. Texas. The Nature Conservancy.
Viewers sit near the entrance of the Eckhert James River Cave. Photo by Jaqueline Ferrato, courtesy of The Nature Conservancy.

In 1907, Richard Phillip Eckert and his wife Virginia Eckert Garrett purchased the limestone cave and ranch site and mined the bat guano to sell to local farmers for crop fertilizer. The cave and ranch were later donated to The Nature Conservancy of Texas with one condition that the site remain open to the public.


  • The Nature Conservancy and Bat Conservation International developed a cooperative management plan that prevents human entrance to the cave during maternal activity, controls visitation, monitors the bat population, and protects the cave’s opening. Scientific research in the cave is conducted year-round.
  • May through September, the preserve serves as an educational platform to teach visitors about the importance of bats.
  • Visitor info is found here and here.
  • Check out other Texas bat-viewing sites. Of note, Texas is home to 32 of 47 bat species found in the United States.