Ultimate Guide to Bull Shoals Cavern, Arkansas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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Situated in the North Central Ozarks of Arkansas, the Bull Shoals Cavern is a living cave that took 350 million years to get the final shape! It is known as a living cave as it is still growing today.
With underground streams flowing throughout the cavern and a small but beautiful waterfall at the back of the cave, it is a geological gem. The caves were once used by civil war soldiers, prehistoric natives, and moonshiners.
Bull Shoals Cavern, Arkansas
Experts have opined that the caverns were created approximately 350 million years ago in the Ordovician period. The caverns were formed by water seeping through into the cracks of the rocks. It forced the cracks to enlarge and dissolve the surrounding rocks. The caverns have been open to the public since 1958.
History of Bull Shoals Cavern
The Bull Shoals Cavern is one of the oldest limestone caverns in the world. Located in the Ozark Mountain Range, the caverns enjoy a temperature of 59 degrees F throughout the year. The Geological experts claim that the caverns were created more than 350 million years ago in the Ordovician period. The streams flow inside the cavern, and there is a waterfall located at the deepest point at the back. Arkansas is home to many caves.
All of these have been formed from ancient seabeds that have got solidified into limestone and calcite. It took shape over millions of years with the help of seeping water, and this process is still alive in many caves. Such caves are known as living caves, and Bull Shoals Cavern is a good example of a living cave.
Carbon dating has revealed that human dwelling had started here as early as 300 BC. Experts say that Native Americans used the cave almost 10,000 years ago. The caverns were open for all in 1958. The first Native Americans to use this cave were the Cliff Walkers.
Early European settlers in the late 1800s to early 1900s would come to use the caverns as a natural refrigerator for their food stores and in the American Civil War, Confederate soldiers used the cavern for harvesting saltpeter.
Soon it would be prohibition and Bull Shoals was an excellent place to hide a moonshine’s still. It was far from the roads, not easy for the taxmen to find, and the right temperature. That takes us to WWII when it was used again, like a fridge, for many families struggling during the war effort.
The History of Bull Shoals; The Best little town by a dam site
You can learn more history from this book from the Bull Shoals Historical Society, It is HERE on Amazon.
Geological Cave Formations in Bull Shoals Cavern
The bulk of the caves in Arkansas has been formed because of limestone dissolution. Almost every known formation that one can think of can be found in Bull Shoals Cavern. Once inside, you will come across large and intricate displays of living mineral formations.
There are limestone draperies with filled edges, grillworks, pyramid-shaped formations, stalagmite, and stalactite forests in every conceivable color of the rainbow. All these formations are sure to amuse and even unnerve some of the visitors to this beautiful cave.
Wildlife in Bull Shoals Cavern
Bull Shoals Caverns is a ‘living’ cave as it is still being formed. But these caverns are said to be ‘living in some other ways too. The caves are full of small creatures like bats, crickets, and brightly-colored salamanders. You will find lots of fish in the underground stream that flows through the caverns.
Download our FREE Bull Shoals Cavern Guide (Unofficial)
Is Bull Shoals Cavern Haunted?
Before we get on with this, it is important to understand that Bull Shoals Cavern came into existence millions of years ago and were inhabited by the Native Americans. It had been open for viewing since 1958; so, few stories have come up regarding these caverns over the years, including those that have hinted at the presence of ghosts.
At the very onset, we must tell you that Bull Shoals Caverns is different from other caves in Arkansas as it has a tunnel-like cave instead of the large chambers that we usually encounter. The caverns have their own historical and supernatural significance and are included in some of the overnight tours. These tours are thrilling, but none of the participants have ever confirmed any encounter with ghosts.
How big is Bull Shoals Cavern?
We couldn’t find the exact measurements of the cave, but it is a decent-sized cave as per locals and visitors. It would take a maximum of three hours to explore the cave fully.
Bull Shoals Cavern Tours
It is fascinating to know that although the town of Bull Shoals is only around since the mid-40s, it has an attraction that is more than 350 million years old! The caverns give you a tunnel-like experience and touring through them will take you to a completely different world. Sign up for the cave tour for a fascinating experience.
The Bull Shoals Cavern Tours take approximately 45 minutes, and you will not face any difficulty as you make your way over the concrete walkways that have been specially built for the tours. The tour is an exhilarating experience for the visitors as they get a chance to see vast and fragile geological formations that will amuse and excite you. The caverns also have several natural pools, an underground lake, a free-flowing stream with rainbow trout, and a subterranean waterfall.
Bull Shoals Cavern Tour Prices and Discounts
There is no entry fee for admission into the Bull Shoals Caverns, but one needs to pay a charge for undertaking the Cavern Tour.
All Prices before Tax
- Adults – USD 19.95
- Children (5 to 11) – USD 9.95
- 4 & Under – FREE
Each cave tour lasts for about 45 min, and the last tour departs 45 minutes before closing the premises.
Is Bull Shoals Cavern Cold?
The Bull Shoals cavern is not cold but remains cool as the temperature here stays at 59 degrees F throughout the year.
What to Wear?
The temperature inside the cave would be cool; so, you will not need jackets or warm clothes, but long or short-sleeved shirts and t-shirts will do fine. Layers and closed shoes will help you to keep warm and comfortable during the tour. As for shoes, sneakers are preferred, and cameras for photography are always welcomed here.
Bull Shoals Cavern Hours
It is assumed that one would take around 2 hr and 30 min to tour and explore the Bull Shoals Cavern fully. The operating hours are as follows –
- Sunday – 10 am to 5 pm.
- Monday, Tuesday – Closed
- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday – 10 am to 5 pm.
What to Do at Bull Shoals Cavern (Beside Tours)
Apart from the guided tour at Bull Shoals Caverns, there are some other ways in which you can keep yourself busy.
The Unique Gift Shop is a wonderful place to keep yourself busy and choose from a rich assortment of crystals, gemstones, souvenirs, T-shirts, jewelry, and lots of other things.
Gemstone Panning is a popular activity among visitors which both adults and kids love. People are encouraged to pan for gemstones in the Mountain Village 1890 Sluice. One can easily purchase gemstone bags from the gift shop. Just put a small portion of the Mining Rough-in the gem pan and wash it carefully through the sluice. Slowly, a variety of gemstones will appear!
One of the best attractions of the Bull Shoals Caverns is the toy train that covers the entire area and is popular among the kids.
Best Time to Visit Bull Shoals Cavern
The climate can play a crucial role in determining the right time to visit Bull Shoals Cavern. However, the temperature inside the caverns is always 59 degrees F, and you will always feel cool inside. Keeping this in mind, we would say that you can visit Bull Shoals Cavern any time of the year except perhaps the wet season.
How to Get to Bull Shoals Cavern
Getting to Bull Shoals Cavern is not a difficult task. If you have GPS fitted in your car, then you can quickly get directions to the property. Located off Highway 178 in Bull Shoals, the caverns are easy to identify; follow the GPS directions carefully and drive down here.
Hotels near Bull Shoals Cavern
There are a decent number of lodging accommodations near Bull Shoals Cavern. Most of the accommodation options are within 5 to 10 min of driving distance from the caverns. Here are a select few –
- The Dam Sites RV Park has more than 30 campsites and is located near the Bull Shoals Dam.
- Chandler’s Inn on Bull Shoals Lake.
- Bull Mountain Resort is perfect for family travelers.
There are also several huts at regular intervals at Bull Shoals Caverns, where you can host a picnic with your loved ones.
Visiting Bull Shoals Caverns
Do you need more information before visiting Bull Shoals Caverns? Call 870-445-7177 or shoot an email to them for an information packet.
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