The Best List of Caves in Missouri
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Caves in Missouri? People prefer to call Missouri by different names. Some call it Show-Me State, while others have named it as John Hamm’s home state. But one name has stuck with it – Cave State (especially the Ozark Mountain Area). People in the US know Missouri for its 6,400 recorded caves, including the 20-odd show caves open to the public for guided tours.
Explorers and spelunkers come from far-off places for the unexplored caves, while the tourists follow the billboards and trails to visit the well-known show caves.
The Top Caves to Visit in Missouri
Most of the caves in Missouri are inaccessible to the public, but there is a good reason. It is done to protect the people from dangerous conditions or to protect the natural habitats of the cave. The caves are generally home to various wildlife such as cave-dwelling salamanders and Ozark’s blindfish. Fossilized footprints of exotic species like American lions and saber-tooth tigers have been found in these caves.
Some of the top caves in Missouri are –
- Talking Rocks Cavern
- Riverbluff Cave
- Research Cave
- Ozark Caverns
- Onyx Cave
- Onondaga Cave State Park
- Meramec Caverns
- Marvel Cave
- Mark Twain Cave
- Jacob’s Cave
- Graham Cave
- Fantastic Caverns
- Devils Well
- Current River Cavern
- Cliff Cave
- Caves of St Louis
- Bridal Cave
- Bluff Dweller’s Cave
- Crystal City Underground
These are a handful of the most famous caves that you will come across in Missouri. But if you are looking for some specific cave options, let’s break this down a bit into different sections to assist you to find the proper caves.
Best Caves in Missouri
Below we have discussed some of the top caves in the state.
Free Caves in Missouri
Most of the caves in Missouri charge an admission fee that ranges from USD 5 to 30, but there are a few where admission is free.
Devil’s Well, Salem
Devil’s Well is located near Akers, and the road that leads to the cave is steep and rough. The Well got created when the roof of a huge cavern collapsed and created a giant sinkhole. It has a hole in the bottom through which one can see the underground lake.
A spiral staircase has been built to make viewing easier for people. There is no admission fee for Devil’s Well, and the area remains open every day during the daytime only. There is a switch in the stairway which activates the light, but you may bring your flashlight.
Graham Cave State Park
Graham Cave is an unusual sandstone cave that is in the hills in Montgomery County. The cave was once used for shelter but became historically significant when the archaeologists discovered that humans used to occupy this cave as early as 10,000 years ago. The artifacts that were found here gave a clue about the lifestyle followed by Archaic period Native Americans.
Visitors are allowed at the entrance of the cave, where they can check out the different discoveries. The Graham Cave State Park surrounds the cave; whoever comes here can also enjoy other activities like boating on the Loutre River and accessing the playground areas and the picnic shelter.
Wild Caves in Missouri
The Fisher Cave has a wide range of cave scenery that would be perfect for first-time explorers. There are huge rooms filled with calcite deposits and some reaching a height of 30 ft. One can spot wildlife and claw marks on the walls and ceilings if one looks at it closely. The cave remains open from mid-May to mid-September, and guided tours are available during this period.
It is a massive system of caves that are located near Springfield. It was first explored by a group of five women in 1867. The caves are now opened to all, but utmost care is taken to protect the fragile environment of this cave. You will get to see an old riverbed that is surrounded by stalactites, flowstones, stalagmites, and huge columns. There are well-lit paths, and visitors have never complained of any problems of discomfort while exploring these caves.
Food Caves in Missouri
SubTropolis, Kansas City
It is an enormous artificial cave situated above the Missouri River. The 55,000 sq ft underground storage facility is the world’s largest underground business complex. The entrance is not at all impressive, but what lies beneath would surely blow your senses away. It was created by digging the Bethany Falls limestone mine, and, in some places, it is 160 ft beneath the surface.
The interior is amazing as it boasts of paved roads and miles of railroad track. The underground food service warehouse has tons of supplies for the restaurants. The temperature is naturally maintained between 65 to 70 degrees F. Here, the other ‘inhabitants’ include:
- An automotive alley.
- Educational supplies.
- More than 150,000 film reels.
- Specialty food packaging center.
Cheese Caves in Missouri
OK – this concept really excited this Wisconsin Girl! CHEEEEEESE! Like CAVES full of it! Yum!
Kraft Cheese Cave, Springfield
Known as the Springfield Underground, this is a cheese cave of epic proportions covering a space of 400,000 sq ft of a repurposed limestone mine. The center acts as a distribution center, and it ships Philadelphia cream cheese, Jell-O, Velveeta processed cheese, among others. In a nutshell, the Springfield Underground acts as a 2 million sq ft refrigerated warehouse.
Limestone Caves in Missouri
These are caves that formed by the dissolution of limestone. They are primarily found in the eastern quarter of the United States and southern Canada.
Meramec Caverns, Stanton
The Meramec Caverns is one of the largest cave formations in the world. At one point in time, the cave had provided shelter to the Native Americans for centuries before the French colonial miners started exploiting it for the minerals.
The deposits of the cave were used in the Civil War to manufacture gunpowder, and in the 1870s, the cave was used by Jesse James to hide his men. The most beautiful formations in the Meramec Caverns include the Underground River and natural limestone ‘Wine Table’.
Natural Caves in Missouri
Bluff Dweller’s Cave, Noel
Located in the Ozark Mountains, the Bluff Dweller’s Cave is archeologically important as it was created in the Paleozoic Era by a steady flow of water. The Paleo-Indians were called the Bluff Dwellers, and they lived in the cave around 12000 years ago.
The caves are open to the public since 1927, and it has 4000 ft of explored passageways. There are several exciting speleothems such as cave corals and lily pads. There are also different animals, such as the grotto salamander and the albino crave crayfish.
Bridal Cave, Camdenton
Do you like the idea of getting married in a cave? It may seem strange to you till you see this magnificent cave near the Lake of Ozarks. There is a legend that a Native American couple got married in this cave centuries ago. The beauty of this cave has made it a popular destination for modern couples who are looking for a romantic wedding. Bridal Cave is easily one of the most beautiful caves with huge stalagmites, stalactites, and many other geological formations.
Kayaking through Caves in Missouri
There is just something magical about floating through a cave – it is hard to explain unless you have done it yourself.
Crystal City Cave, Missouri
If you adventure, caving, and kayaking, you can combine all these into one unique activity at the famous Crystal City Cave in Missouri. This cave is one of the best-kept secrets of Missouri and gives you a priceless experience! The guides will help you reach deep into the cave through a never-ending labyrinth at a dept of 400 ft underground.
You can enjoy 2 ½ hours of pure fun at this 150-acre lake. The journey through the caves on a kayak is an exhilarating one, and it will continue until you reach an opening in the cave. Many websites give you pictures of the kayaking journey through the caverns, but images and words are not enough to get a natural feel of the place.
As you can see, the state of Missouri has some pretty great offerings to cave lovers! Make certain to always be safe and prepared before entering any cave so you can make your cave experience a good one!
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- The Best List of Caves in Tennessee
- The Best List of Caves in Vermont
- The Best List of Caves in Virginia
- The Best List of Caves in Wyoming