Friday, January 13, 2017

Show Caves to Visit in Missouri - Part 1

Bridal Cave can be found in the middle of Missouri, aka "The Cave State." We've talked about the "Show-Me-State's" other nickname before, and discussed the reasons that Missouri earned it. (There are 18 show caves located in our state, and 6,950 wild caves!) 

Today, our Lake of the Ozarks cave tour has decided to share the spotlight with some of the other show caves in Missouri. Cave exploring is an excellent winter activity due to the fact that you can experience nature and the great outdoors, but in a sheltered and climate-controlled way. If you couldn't decide on a good New Year's resolution for 2017, why not make yours trying to visit every show cave in this blog series? January is a great time to get started! 


Bridal Cave, Thunder Mountain Park, Missouri show caves
Bridal Cave
Bridal Cave
We figured that a good place to start would be our very own Lake of the Ozarks family attraction. Located in Camdenton, we have been rated as one of the most scenic cave tours in America! Tours leave every few minutes all year long. Our guides are thoroughly educated about the cave's real history and tall tales, and you will hear all about it as you travel from room to room enjoying the natural beauty.

True to its name, Bridal Cave is also a very popular and unique place to get married. Since the very first wedding in the underground chapel in 1949, over 3,300 couples have tied the knot here! In addition to that, couples flock to the free annual vow renewals hosted by the cave every year around Valentine's Day.


Ozark Caverns (photo form www.mostateparks.com)
Ozark Caverns
Inside Lake of the Ozarks State Park in Kaiser, not too far from Bridal Cave, is this beautiful show cave. It contains an environment where geologic processes can proceed unhindered by many of the erratic, erosive forces that shape the surface landscape. In addition to viewing soda straws, helictites, stalagmites, and a host of other geologic wonders, Ozark Caverns contains Angel Showers. This is an unusual cave phenomenon which is a never-ending shower of water coming out of what seems to be a solid ceiling of rock. The interpretive tour is a half-mile round trip and lasts about an hour.    


Jacob's Cave (photo from www.jacobscave.com)
Jacob's Cave
This natural wonder can be found between Versailles and Gravois Mills. It is famous for its depth illusions, reflective pools, ceiling sponge-work, prehistoric bones, and the world's largest geode. During the mile-long tour, you will be able to witness evidence of six ice ages and three earthquakes. Jacob's Cave is completely handicap accessible to wheelchairs and baby strollers.   


Meramec Caverns (photo from www.americascave.com) 
Meramec Caverns
Traveling east of the Lake of the Ozarks, you will find Meramec Caverns in Stanton. It is filled with complex mineral formations and colors as rare and unique as they are beautiful that took thousands of years to grow. Rangers lead guided tours year-round along well-lighted walkways. You will learn how the ancient limestone "Wine Table" was built, as well as an entire 7-story mansion, all underground!   


Fisher Cave
You can find Fisher Cave inside Meramec State Park in Sullivan. Seasonal tours are led by naturalists, featuring one outstanding cave scene after another. Among some of the highlights are well-preserved bear claw marks, cave wildlife, and a vast array of calcite deposits ranging from intricate helictites to massive columns that are 30 feet tall. 
Fisher Cave (photo from www.mostateparks.com) 


Onondaga Cave (photo from www.mostateparks.com) 
Onondaga Cave
Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg offers visitors the chance to drop into a world of wonder in a National Natural Landmark. Guided tours are given to see towering stalagmites, dripping stalactites, and active flowstones. On the surface, you will find a panoramic view of the Meramec River. 


Cathedral Cave (photo from www.mostateparks.com) 
Cathedral Cave
Also located inside Onondaga State Park, Cathedral Cave's lantern tours last about two hours. You will begin by taking a short 1/3-mile walk up Deer Run Trail to reach the cave's entrance. Most of the cave, if not all, is hollowed in the Gasconade dolomite, which was laid down about 440 million years ago! This tour is limited to the first 30 people that sign up and is available May through Labor Day.   


Mark Twain Cave (photo from www.marktwaincave.com)
Mark Twain Cave 
Traveling north, you will discover Mark Twain Cave in Hannibal. The first organized guided tour took place in 1886, and in 1972 it officially became a National Natural Landmark. This tour begins with a short video about cave formation, and also about how this particular cave inspired the writings of Mark Twain. Five of his books mentioned it, most notably "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer." Experienced guides will then take you on an hour-long tour with smooth walkways and no steps, regaling you with the rich stories that surround the cave.  


Cameron Cave (photo from www.marktwaincave.com) 
Cameron Cave
This wonder is actually a property of Mark Twain Cave and offers two types of tours from May through September. The "Lantern Tour" offers a geological look at the labyrinth of passages which are very tightly woven together. There is no electricity inside this cave, thus the need for all visitors to carry a lantern. The other tour offered is a "Total Eclipse Tour." This one is physically demanding. Knee pads and elbow pads are suggested, and everyone wears a helmet with a headlamp. Experienced guides will lead you on a 2-3 hour tour that includes walking, climbing, crawling through damp glacial clay, scrambling about on rocks, and exploring the Swamp. Space is limited and reservations should be made several weeks before your visit.   


map photo from www.missouricaves.com
Well, those nine show caves should get your Missouri caves adventure started. Next week's blog will cover seven more that can be found south of our scenic natural attraction at the Lake of the Ozarks. Caving is a wonderful way for people of every age to enjoy the beauty that nature has to offer in a fun and educational way. Bridal Cave encourages everyone to get out, get active, and experience the exciting adventure that awaits you in all of these amazing Missouri caves. It's family fun... as it should be!  


One of America's most scenic 
cave tours.

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526 Bridal Cave Road
Camdenton, MO 65020
(573) 346-2676

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