Written by Klaire Howerton
Posted by Mark Ruda
Explore the Caves of the Ozarks
What first comes to mind when you think of a cave? Is it the intricately awesome and sparkly stalactites and stalagmites clinging tightly to the ceilings and floors of natural caverns? Or is it the upside down bats, cave salamanders and cave crickets? Maybe it is the thought of donning rubber boots and a head lamp and crawling into a new space to explore. Whatever caves make you think of, there are numerous interesting caverns for you to explore here in the Ozarks. So grab a flashlight and start spelunking!
Marvel Cave is one of the oldest Branson caves in the area. Opened as a tourist attraction in the late 1800s by William Henry Lynch, the cave is now owned by the Herschend family and is located at the entrance of Silver Dollar City, which was actually built around the cave itself. A sixty minute cave tour of Marvel Cave is included with your Silver Dollar City admission – so take the opportunity to see this breathtaking piece of history. You’ll travel down a staircase to five hundred feet below the surface to the Cathedral Room – it is the largest cave entrance room in the United States. After your tour, you’ll ride a unique cable train back up into the light of day!
Talking Rocks Cavern
Talking Rocks Cavern is a Branson cave system that is also owned by the Herschend family – and it’s another great spelunking adventure for you! Talking Rocks Cavern features guided cave tours where visitors are led down a series of platforms to the cave floor. From there, you’ll see fantastic formations like the famous ‘curtain’ and ‘bacon’ formations. Your tour of Talking Rocks Cavern also includes a light and sound show. There is a gift shop that leads to the mouth of the cave.
Fantastic Caverns, located in Springfield, Missouri, offers you the unique opportunity of touring America’s only ride through cave! This spectacular cave was discovered in 1862 by a local farmer’s dog, who located the cave and crawled through the entrance. Five years later, there was a newspaper call for explorers brave enough to enter the cavern – twelve local women responded, and their names are carved onto the side of a cave wall to this day. Today, Fantastic Caverns is a family owned business that offers jeep drawn tram tours through the cavern – this preserves the fragile ecosystem within the cave. Fantastic Caverns also features a fabulous gift shop, full of historical and cavern themed souvenirs.
Smallin Civil War Cave
The Smallin Civil War Cave, located in Ozark, Missouri, is a cave full of rich history and native Ozarks beauty. Featuring only inclines and ramps (no stairs!) this cave is a bit more accessible than some others in the area. Guests to the cave will have the chance to spot rare cave creatures like the Bristly Cave Crayfish and the Blind Cave Salamander. Multiple tour opportunities are available.
The Ozarks are full of great caves to explore – so get spelunking!