Colorado Bend State Park Project

Cave & Karst Survey Project
2023–2024 Project Volunteer Information

In order to be as happy, safe, and productive as possible, please completely read and understand the information provided here.

Note: The TSA does not provide guided trips or tours in Colorado Bend State Park. Guided cave tours in the park are offered by Nichols Outdoor Adventures.

What: The TSA has an agreement with TPWD to conduct a thorough search of Colorado Bend State Park for the purpose of conducting an inventory of caves and karst features; recording details of known and newly discovered caves including the creation of cave maps; and, assisting the park with the development of a comprehensive cave management plan.

Who: The project is open to the public. Volunteers should have at least basic caving experience. Tasks vary in capabilities from hiking with a GPS and taking pictures to multi-hour surveys requiring skilled rope access and very tight squeezes.

How: Hike with maps and GPS units. Take pictures and written descriptions of new caves and karst features. Explore, survey and draft maps of new and existing caves. Dig to reveal new caves and passage. Collect and report data to TPWD and the caving community. Have fun doing what we enjoy.

When: Project weekends are on the second Saturday of each month, except for summer months. Some people arrive Friday night and camp, others arrive Saturday morning. Everyone must attend the briefing, safety meeting, sign the liability release and assign teams at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday morning. Project work may be continued on Sunday, but must be arranged with project coordinator prior to the weekend.

Where: The Park is located along the Colorado River in San Saba County. Follow Highway 580 west for ½hour from Lampasas to Bend. After crossing the river, turn left onto County Road 442 (paved at first but becoming fairly well maintained gravel). Keep to the right at forks and on the main road. Watch for the brown with yellow letters “Colorado Bend State Park” sign and cattle guard. Upon entering the Park boundary (3.6 miles from Bend), continue 50ft to the right past the Stop sign to the green gate. Drive through the green gate and close it behind you. Do not cross any other gates. Follow the tracks 1/3 mile to the central fire circle, and camp in the woods anywhere around it. Do not set up camp anywhere vehicles may drive. The TSA camping area, Caver Camp, is in a closed area of the park. Do not enter the gate directly behind the CBSP Welcome sign, that is private property.

What you need to bring: Drinking water, a tent, sleeping bag and pad, old clothes for caving, a couple of changes of clothing appropriate for the weather, and your food, pots, stove, etc. The temperatures range from the teens in winter to 100s in summer. The group fire is often used for cooking, but not during burn ban. For caving you need hiking boots or work boots with deep lug soles, gloves, old pants, a T-shirt, knee pads, a helmet, a headlamp, and a small pack (such as a fanny pack) with water, extra lights, personal medications, granola bars, etc. Some caves require vertical gear, but if you are vertically trained, you likely have your own equipment. Survey gear can be provided by your team leader or by the Project. If you do not have an adequate helmet or headlamp, contact the Project Leader to arrange a loan. Bicycle helmets and tennis shoes are not adequate for caving.

Sign up: Everyone must email to sign up for project weekend. Email should include how many people and vehicles are in your group, how likely you are to attend, and if you intend to arrive Friday night or Saturday morning. Send your email before noon the Friday before the project weekend and receive confirmation response. The project weekend is limited to 20 people total. Sign up for the project is required so that teams and tasks can be planned ahead of time, so we can be respectful of other Park guests, and so regulars and first timers can get the most out of their experience.

Project weekends for 2023 - 2024

Project dates for 2023-2024 are awaiting approval. Check back again soon for updates.

October 21 2023

November 18 2023

December 9 2023

January 13 2024

February 10 2024 March 9 2024 April 7 2024, Sunday (waitlisted)  

All teams leave camp by 10 a.m., so be ready to go before the 9:30a.m. briefing. Teams are expected to return to camp before 10 p.m.

Project Rules: We must respect the State Park’s rules. Read the Park Rules at:
There are additional rules for Caver Camp and Project Teams in order to maintain good relations with Texas Parks and Wildlife.
Minor infractions to these rules will result in a verbal warning. Major infraction will result in a 1 year suspension from all TSA projects. You may appeal disciplinary actions with the TSA Projects Coordinator Chairman.
Those rules are thus:

  1. You must sign up for a space by emailing the coordinators and receive a response. See "Sign up" section above.
  2. Public display or consumption of alcohol is prohibited. All outdoor areas within the park are public.
  3. Do not cross Park Boundaries. Trespassing on private property is illegal.
  4. No fire during burn bans. You must check if the park is in a burn ban before starting the fire. No other ground fires are allowed other than in the main campfire pit.
  5. Don't visit any caves without prior permission from the project coordinator. Don't go caving in the park on non-project weekends unless you go with one of the permitted tour companies. Do not try to avoid these rules by claiming to be a caver or "with the TSA".
  6. Don't publicly disclose any locations or information about the caves in the park, this includes social media. Don't mention the park's name when posting to social media, instead you may say "San Saba County".
  7. All data collected must be turned in to the Project Leaders before leaving the Park. Each team must submit a written trip report before leaving the Park.
  8. All participants on project weekends are expected to work. Cave cartography, surface surveying, digging, etc. are all needed.  Team leaders will be assigned less experienced people for training.
  9. Volunteer Permits must be displayed on your vehicle windshield when your vehicle is not parked in Caver Camp.  Park only in CBSP designated parking areas, and not along the roadsides.
  10. Dogs must be on a leash at all times except when in a tent or vehicle.
  11. Take home all your trash with you and clean up after yourself. There are compost toilets at the Park Office (at the river) and at the Gorman Falls parking area. If you choose to go to the restroom at Caver Camp, you must bag and carry it out.
  12. A $2 per person fee is collected when you sign in Saturday morning for the TSA Project. The fee helps cover some of the costs associated with the GPS units, batteries, map supplies, survey gear, etc. No other fees are involved, and camping for project volunteers in Caver Camp is free.
  13. Be respectful and don't get loud or rowdy at Caver Camp. We are here to volunteer time furthering the project and having a good time doing the things we enjoy. Don't mess that up for other.

Project Coordinators: Will Quast and Kris Pena — or 512-704-2525 / 512-608-5162
Assistant Project Coordinator: Liz Herren — or 512-585-1758
Cave Rescue: Call the Park Office (325-628-3240) FIRST! If no response, call 911.
Web Site:
Facebook Group:

Google Maps Driving Directions
Enter your starting location at,-98.5048916/

Caver Camp GPS locations
Caver Camp entrance (green gate): 31.063969°-98.504891°
Caver Camp fire ring: 31.062814°-98.508113°

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