Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Love Is In The Air (Again) at Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park

Bridal Cave is getting ready to once again host our most anticipated Lake of the Ozarks annual event. Every year, right around Valentine's Day, we provide FREE wedding vow renewals, and couples flock from all over to participate in this romantic celebration of love. (Yes, you read that right ... IT'S FREE!) 

Renew Your Vows For FREE!
On Sunday, February 12, 2017, celebrate Valentine's Day a couple of day's early with your spouse by renewing your wedding vows inside our beautiful, stalactite adorned, underground wedding chapel. We will have an officiant on hand to take care of the words, and all you have to bring is the love (and your spouse, of course!) No reservations are needed to renew your wedding vows. Simply show up and we will get you in with the next ceremony. 

Over the years, this has been one of the most popular events at the park. Couples have joined us from 24 different states, and ranged in years married from as many as 60 to less than one. One bride & groom had only been married for one week! 

We had 240 couples join us last year. As a matter of fact, we even had a brand new wedding that day once the event was over! Love was definitely in the air. Here is what one guest had to say;     

"My husband and I came and renewed our vows yesterday (last year, 2016) with you. Ed and I Want to thank you so much for inviting us and making our 25th the a most special Valentine's day . The staff made me feel like a young bride all over again. The ceremony was perfect!! As we said our vows, I felt like I did 25 years ago saying them for the first time full of love and joy. Thank God for this beautiful cave and thank you the staff of Bridal Cave, for using Gods gift in such a special way on Valentines. Thanks!"  
~Donna Madewell

FREE Goodies, Plus a Chance to Win Big!
In addition to getting the chance to promise your love to your spouse once again, many lake area businesses have joined us to make your vow renewal extra special. All participating couples will receive:   

  • Fresh flowers for the bride from Janine's Flowers
  • A downloadable wedding portrait from Lindsey Webster Photography
  • A goodie bag filled with gifts and lake area discounts
  • A lifetime pass to Bridal Cave

This year we have also added a grand prize for one lucky couple. Everyone joining us for this special event will be entered to win:

  • 2 tickets to a concert of your choice at Ozarks Amphitheater 
  • Overnight accommodations at Old Kinderhook Lodge 
  • Limo service to and from the concert 

Mark Your Calendars Now!
Make sure that you do not miss this year's FREE renewal of vows at Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park. It's only a short trip from home if you live in the lake area, and it can be a perfect romantic weekend trip if you don't live here but would like to spend Valentine's Day at the Lake of the Ozarks.

You will also be some of the first people to see new things that we have in store for our 2017 season. The Rock Shop and the Sportswear Shop will both be open, and all of the wonderful new items that we've picked out will be on display. We'll see you soon for vow renewals, and we expect to see you often after that. (You are getting a lifetime pass, after all!)   

One of America's most scenic 
cave tours.

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

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Show Caves to Visit in Missouri - Part 2

Our Lake of the Ozarks family-fun attraction isn't the only cave tour to enjoy in Missouri. Last week our blog, Show Caves to Visit in Missouri - Part 1, featured eight exciting caves full of natural wonders in addition to Bridal Cave. This week's blog continues that look with seven more show caves that help to give our state it's nickname of "The Cave State."  

Round Spring Cave (photo from 
Round Spring Cave
This cave is a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, one of our national parks located in Van Buren. During the summer months, park rangers take up to 15 people at a time on this 2-hour, somewhat strenuous cave tour. 

Current River Cavern (photo from 
Current River Cavern
Also in Van Buren, you will find the cave formerly known as "Big Spring Onyx Cavern." There is a year-round stream flowing through the tour passage below the boardwalk, and after heavy rains there is a beautiful small waterfall to enjoy flowing from a side passage. The entire cave is lit by battery powered LED lights that give off a restricted light spectrum. There are flashlights available in the gift shop to borrow and use during this 30-40 minute cave tour. 

Fantastic Caverns (photo from
Fantastic Caverns
Springfield boasts America's only ride-through cave. Visitors take the tour in jeep-drawn trams. This helps to preserve the natural features of the cave while allowing you to experience the magnitude, the stillness, and the splendor. Each tour lasts about an hour, and they depart every 20-30 minutes all year long.  

Smallin Cave (photo from 
Smallin Cave
Just south of Springfield in Ozark, you will find Smallin Cave. There is strong evidence that this particular cave was used for war related activities during the Civil War, and they even offer a historic Civil War Tour which includes a lantern -lit walk through the cave. The regular 1-hour, half-mile cave tour is given year-round. Guides will tell you all about the history, folklore, and geology of Smallin Cave, and you may be lucky enough to see rare bristly crayfish, endangered blind cave salamanders, and various species of bats.     

Marvel Cave (photo from
Marvel Cave
Silver Dollar City in Branson features Marvel Cave. The theme park actually evolved around the entrance to this show cave which can be toured seasonally March 15 - January 1. The trail in this hour long, wet limestone cave tour consists of ramps and nearly 600 stairs. A trained guide will host your journey with anecdotes of historical and geological features. After descending nearly 500 feet below the earth's surface, a unique cable train will bring you back up.   

Talking Rocks Cavern (photo from
Talking Rocks Cavern
You will find this incredible cave in Branson West. It was first named "Fairy Cave" by early cave developer Truman Powell because he commented that it looked like "a subterranean fairy land." In 1969 the name was changed to Talking Rocks Cavern based on a quote from Truman's son, Waldo Powell, who noted that the physical evidence inside the cave would tell him a story about how it was formed. The hour long tour is both fun and educational (what they call "edutainment.") You will see and learn all about the cave's discovery, history, mineral deposits, and other geological information. 

Bluff Dwellers Cavern (photo from
Bluff Dwellers Cavern
This show cave in Noel was discovered in 1925, and it began from an opening only as large as a person's head. A network of subterranean corridors were found channeling through the layers of rock like a subway system. Public tours began just two years after the cave's discovery, and today descendants of the original Browning family that discovered the cave still own it. You can experience this show cave year-round, witnessing its Crystal Dam, Musical Chimes, Balanced Rock, and much more.

If you have had the chance to visit our scenic Lake of the Ozarks attraction, then you have some idea about the wonders that are in store for you when you visit the rest of Missouri's show caves. While similar, each of these has something unique to see and learn about. Bridal Cave is a great place to start your adventure, but we hope that the information in this blog series inspires you to keep exploring all of the wonders of our magical cave state. This type of outdoor activity is 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

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
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
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 
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 

Onondaga Cave (photo from 
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 
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
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 
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
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

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Unusual Questions At The Park Lead To Amazing Discoveries

With the wide variety of numerous visitors that we see every year at our Lake of the Ozarks family attraction, we are constantly answering all sorts of questions not only about Bridal Cave, but also about the lake area itself. 

Quite often we have folks stopping by the park looking for answers. Sometimes people simply want to know where a good place to eat is or what other local attractions that they should make it a point to visit. We take pride in trying our best to answer all of the questions asked of us. As a matter of fact, we train all of our staff to be familiar with the entire lake area and what it has to offer. 

Other questions may need a bit of research, like asking us to identify some unusual rock or mineral, or even where someone can take an injured animal that has been found. One unusual question was asked of us by email. This particularly interesting question struck a chord with everyone here, and we couldn't resist sharing this awesome story with our readers. It's about an old house that existed before the Lake of the Ozarks was even formed. 

The photos and information about them that are featured in this blog were provided by the question-asker, Tim Helton. He was happy to give us his permission to share the information with all of you.      

Hey Folks,
This is a bit of a long shot but thought I’d throw it out there.

My mother in law lived in this stone house (see picture) that was “somewhere” in the Camdenton, Linn Creek, Ha Ha Tonka end of the lake. She cannot remember where, and the house may now be torn down - but just wondered if anyone there recognized it and might know where it is?
Thanks in advance for any ideas.

After sharing the photo with our Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park staff, our general manager, Steve Thompson, immediately recognized the old house! It actually is a home that Steve has been fond of for years. Turns out, it is located just downstream from the cave on the 8 mile maker of the Big Niangua Arm of the Lake of the Ozarks. 

We replied to Tim with what we thought was the location of the house, and sure enough, the place that Steve had in mind turned out to be the family homestead that they were looking for! 

Tim wrote back to us, providing some history about the old home, as well as the pictures featured in this blog, which were all provided by his mother-in-law, Sally Raines Henderson. The house still stands straight across the lake from Clearwater Condos around the 8MM of the Big Niangua Arm of the lake.

Another view of the old house. 

Young Sally with her mother, Gladys Mary Wells Raines, near Ha Ha Tonka before the castle caught fire. 

According to Tim, Sally's father, William Maurice Raines, was apparently one of the attorneys working for a firm out of St. Louis that was retained by Union Electric to help secure land rights so they could dam the rivers and create the Lake of the Ozarks. 

The old house as it stands today!

The house is still standing, now a type of a historical marker built in 1926, reminding us of a time long ago that took place in our familiar surroundings near Bridal Cave & Thunder Mountain Park. We want to send a special thank you out to Tom for bringing this to our attention, and also to his family for sharing the wonderful photos and facts with all of us. If you happen to have a question that needs answering, ask it. You never know just who may have the answer that you are looking for.     

One of America's most scenic 
cave tours.

Visit us at
Like us on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.
Follow us on Google+
Follow us on LinkedIn

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