Caves and Caverns

Missouri is called “The Cave State” for good reason. Its limestone landscape makes an ideal place for caverns to form. More than 6,000 have been discovered, one of the more recent was Top of the Rock’s Lost Canyon Cave.

 

Missouri’s caves have fascinating history, serving as hideouts to famous outlaws like Jesse James or safe spots for civil war soldiers. The caves have also been used as ideal environments for storing or even growing food, and as entertainment venues. In fact, Branson famously got its start with the Baldknobbers performing in Springfield’s Fantastic Caverns. Silver Dollar City was originally built around America’s largest cave entrance.

 

Enjoy touring these local caves, learning their histories and experiencing their unique and beautiful underground atmosphere.       

 

Fantastic Caverns

4872 N. Farm Rd. 125

Springfield, MO
417-883-2010

www.fantasticcaverns.com

 

For anyone with young kids or people who aren’t able to navigate stairs or other walking cave tours, Fantastic Caverns is a great find. The only ride-through cave in America, guests feel like they’re going on a hay-ride (minus the hay) when boarding the tram to go underground. The raw beauty of this cave with its magnificent formations is worthy of the hour-long trip north of Branson.

 

And, while you’re not technically in Branson, this cave is really where Branson began when the Baldknobbers began entertaining in what is now called the cave’s auditorium room. That’s just some of the fascinating history you’ll learn on the jeep-drawn tour.

 

Another unique feature of Fantastic Caverns is its pet-friendly policy. As a nod to the dog who found this cave in 1862, pets are welcome to join their families on the excursion. While a dog found the cave, it was a group of a dozen women who first explored it. You can still see their signatures, written on the wall in 1867.

 

Lost Canyon Cave

150 Top of the Rock Road

Hollister, MO

800-225-6343

www.topoftherock.com


This is the way to go caving! Drive through on an electric cart and, while inside, stop for a drink at the Bat Bar. (No real bats. Well, probably not.) Take in the underground scenery, including its astonishing four-story waterfall and impressive rock formations.

 

In addition to the cave tour, your ticket includes a two-and-a-half mile guided hike along the Lost Canyon Nature Trail. You’ll experience some of the most beautiful views the Ozarks has to offer, and even walk across a 140-foot Amish-built bridge. The trail ends at the Top of the Rock where you can relax and enjoy a meal at Arnie’s Barn.

 

Marvel Cave

399 Silver Dollar City Pkwy

417-336-7100

www.silverdollarcity.com

 

It was 1541 when the the first explorers entered this deep cavern in the Earth. Hundreds of years later, Marvel Cave was the first attraction in what would become Silver Dollar City. Today, people are still exploring its mysteries.

 

The cave entrance is just inside Silver Dollar City and the tour is included with your park admission. There are a lot of stairs and even tight spaces to maneuver once inside; discuss any concerns at the cave information desk. (You will board a train for the trip back to the top.)

 

Once you’ve descended to the cave’s surface you will be in the Cathedral room, the largest cave entrance in America. And this is just the beginning of an hour-long tour of beautiful, still-living cave formations filled with history and wonder.

 

For those looking for even more adventure, try the lantern light tour, starting 90 minutes before the park closes. Guests on this last tour of the day have access to even more parts of the cave and experience it as the early explorers did… by lantern light. This particular tour does have an additional $10 fee.

Make reservations for all tours online or when you first arrive at the park to guarantee a spot.

 

Talking Rocks       

423 Fairy Cave Lane
Branson West

417-272-3366                   

www.talkingrockscavern.com           

The rocks don’t really talk. (The cave earned that name when it was host to sound and light shows and the installed speakers were made to look like rocks.) But even its mute surroundings are inspiring. In fact, formations like the 60-foot-tall Powell Column will likely leave everyone speechless.

 

Talking Rocks Cavern was discovered in 1883 by a couple of rabbit hunting kids. No one actually explored the cave until more than a decade later. What they saw was simply incredible.

 

The deep, vertical cave can be challenging to maneuver. There are 150 stairs to navigate and some low clearance areas. Still, the year-round mild temperatures are a welcome relief to frigid winters or hot summers above ground.

 

In addition to the cave tour, guests can enjoy gemstone mining, speleo crawl boxes, nature trails and picnic areas, even a little mini-golf.