Add some adventure into your life this summer by exploring some of the biggest and best caves the Ozarks has to offer!
Enjoy all that 'America's Ride-Thru Cave' has to offer at Fantastic Caverns in Springfield, Missouri. Fantastic Caverns offers a 55-minute tour in a Jeep-drawn tram, the tour following the path of an ancient underground river. Enjoy pleasant 60-degree weather constant, fun facts about the cave system along the way, and fun gemstone shopping afterward!
Talking Rocks Cavern
Experience a cave system like no other, Talking Rocks Cavern being a mostly vertical cave in nature. Take the one-hour guided tour and learn about the cave's discovery, history, and geology, then head above ground for some mini-golf, gemstone panning, hiking, or our personal favorite, the Speleo Crawl Mazes. These box obstacle courses provide more than 100 feet of tight twists and turn tunnels!
Ha Ha Tonka State Park is an extremely interesting place to visit without even considering the caves it holds, the park popular for its castle ruins and hiking opportunities. There are multiple caves on-site, but typically the one that is open to the public is Island Cave. If you are feeling particularly adventerous you can obtain a permit at the park office and then go on a spelunking adventure through the cave, which is usually open June to September. You will encounter several fields of “karst”, which are rock formations that resemble stalagmites, but above ground!
Bluff Dweller's Cave
Near Noel, Missouri sits Bluff Dweller's Cave, a cavern system that holds about 4,000 feet of explored passages. The cave is filled with such interesting things as cave corals, 'popcorn', and perhaps the most interesting, the 2.4 cm thick rimstone pool that is almost 23 meters long. You will also see Musical Chimes stalactites, the Ten Ton Balanced Rock, and local residents like the albino cave crayfish and eastern pipistrelle bat.
Deep in the Ozarks, you will find Meramec Caverns, an interconnected system of some of the biggest caves in the state of Missouri. The system stretches 4.6 miles, perhaps the most popular cave to explore being Fisher Cave. This cave allows guests to walk through and see several interesting formations such as 30 feet tall calcite deposits and well-preserved fossils and remnants of local wildlife.
Right outside of Branson, Missouri, is Marvel Cave, a cave system that is technically part of Silver Dollar City. This cave is believed to have the largest cave entrance in the United States, the Cathedral Room measuring up to 204 feet high, 225 feet wide, and 411 feet long. This cave is also the deepest in Missouri at 505 feet. During the tradition tour, you will take 600 stairs down 500 feet to explore, but if you are feeling extra adventurous opt to take the Lantern Cave Tour, the electricity-free exploration option!
Onondaga Cave State Park
The cave here at Onondaga Cave State Park is officially a National Natural Landmark, the titular cave filled with historic and geological wonders abound. Follow trained guides through the cave on paved, well-lit walkways and see the King's Canopy, the Twins, and even a river that runs through the cave. The tour lasts about an hour and 15 minutes and the cave constant temperature is 57 degrees.
Situated within the Lake of the Ozarks State Park, this cavern system will make you feel like a true cave explorer, as there is no electricity and you must use lanterns and headlamps to see. Your exploration will show you the 'Angel Showers' water stream, several wildlife claw marks throughout, and possibly even glimpses of local residents such as salamanders, bats, and other small invertebrates.
Located near Camdenton, Missouri, in the Lake of the Ozarks you will find Bridal Cave, one of the most toured caves in Missouri, and as the name implies, one of the most wedding-filled! This cave has a history of holding wedding ceremonies in the early 1800s, it's most legendary ceremony from the Osage Native Conwee, son of a local chief. Take a one hour tour of the cave and see the delicate soda straws, giant columns, massive draperies and mineral deposits throughout.
Riverbluff Cave is located right outside Springfield Missouri and is considered to be the oldest fossil cave in the United States. Inside you will see Pleistocene fossils, stalactites, columns, and stalagmites. The cave is part of a much larger karst filled landscape called the Ozark Mountains Springfield Plateau. Upon your own exploration of the site and museum, you will quickly see why this cave is called the 'ice age time capsule'.
Smallin Civil War Cave
This is one of our favorites on the list, this historic Civil War Cave holding an enormous amount of Ozark History, both culturally and geologically. It is so historic that it is actually registered as an entire historic district! Take a one hour guided tour for an easy stroll through the cave system, or perhaps take the Wild Cave Tour, a 2- hour off-trail underground adventure that requires a headlamp, helmet, and walking through knee-deep 54-degree water. It will be well worth it, though, as you will see rimstone dams, the 'mushroom' formation, and elusive cave species.