Ultimate Guide to Mystic Caverns, Arkansas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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Mystic Caverns is a show cave between Harrison and Jasper cities on the Arkansas Highway 7 Scenic Byway. The location is quite close to the now-defunct amusement park, Dogpatch USA. The cave has been allowed to operate commercially since the 1920s and is older than any other commercial cave in Arkansas. Since then, a lot of care has been taken to preserve this magnificent cave.
Mystic Caverns, Arkansas
Mystic Caverns is a fine example of Karst Cave, where the bedrock has dissolved to create sinkholes and caves. Karst is associated with soluble types of rock, such as limestone and gypsum. A karst landscape-like cave is formed when the water falling on the surface interacts and enters through cracks and holes dissolved into the bedrock. After traveling underground for reasonable distances, the water gets released from springs, and many of these are cave entrances.
History of Mystic Caverns
The Ozark Mountains region was settled in the 1830s. At this point, Marble Falls was a thriving community that enjoyed a large population in the late 1800s. The original entrance to Mystic Caverns is best described as a dirt slope leading to a 10 ft drop into the cave. The early settlers knew this entrance and visited the cave much before 1850.
The black stains on the cave walls suggest that pine torches were used for exploration at that time. There are rumors that the cave was used for finding guano to prepare gunpowder during the Civil War. Some say that the early settlers used the cave to hide the moonshine stills.
The earliest physical evidence of visitors to the caves dates back to 1919. A person by the name of Adam Kolbe carved his name and date on one of the formations. The exact date on which Mystic Caverns was commercially opened to the public is still unknown. However, it is assumed that the tours began a few years before 1928. Some say that Mystic Caverns was open to the public for tours before 1925, making it the 2nd oldest commercially operated cave in Arkansas.
In 1966 a newly created theme park named Dogpatch USA bought Mystic Caverns to make the cave a part of the theme park. Developmental work started in the area within and around the cave. In 1968, Mystic Caverns reopened under the name “Dogpatch Caverns”. In 1981 Dogpatch sold the caves and was continued to be managed by Bruce Raney.
In 1984, the cave was bought by Omni Projects, and Burt Allen was hired to manage the property. In 1988 the property was purchased by Steve Rush, and in 1997 Mystic Caverns Inc bought the caves, which are the present owners. Mystic Caverns is one of the popular attractions in Arkansas, and it sees a footfall of around 15,000 visitors every year.
Geological Cave Formations in Mystic Caverns
The Ozark Mountains are filled with large and small caves on the hillsides, and Mystic Caverns is one of the most breathtaking caverns in the country, with all kinds of safety precautions in place. Visitors to the caves can expect a wonderful blend of geological formations, including stalactites, soda straws, helictites, regal columns, and a 28 ft pipe organ. There were many more formations, but, unfortunately, people stole a few of the stalactites when the cave remained unprotected for a short time in the 1940s.
Wildlife in Mystic Caverns
In Mystic Caverns, you can sometimes see salamanders, crickets, and occasionally frogs. Employees have often reported seeing chipmunks, squirrels, whitetail deer, bobcats, and raccoons. Some visitors have claimed that they have seen black bear cubs crossing the driveway. Around twenty years ago, a family had reported seeing a group of red foxes only fifteen feet from her.
Are the Caverns Haunted?
It is a commercially active cave, and there have never been any reports of weird or supernatural activities in the cave, which can label it as ‘haunted.’
How Big are Mystic Caverns?
The Mystic Caverns is one of the largest in the Ozark Mountains and stands at 30 ft tall with a thickness of 12 ft.
Mystic Caverns Tours
There is a choice to tour both the Mystic Caverns and the almost adjacent Crystal Dome Caverns, but you can always opt for one – Mystic Caverns. The guides who will be leading the tours are highly knowledgeable, and they will tell you all about the history of this magnificent cave.
There are a few things to consider here. Do bring a pair of non-slip footwear to change into. The environment inside the cave is a bit on the wet side, and the stairs can be damp. The ladies would have a tough time if they were sticking to heels.
The tours last for around 80 to 90 minutes, and the guide will take you through wide steps and well-lighted walkways. He will show you the original entrance of the cave – a narrow sinkhole from more than 200 years ago. The soot damage on the ceiling of the cave is apparent, and so are the hundreds of stalactites, stalagmites, and draperies that had been stolen, broken, and removed for sale.
Despite all the evidence of ransacking, Mystic Caverns is impressive, and you will enjoy viewing the other fully intact geological formations, including the hugely remarkable pipe organ!
Mystic Caverns Tour Prices and Discounts
The prices for the Mystic Caverns tour are as follows –
- Adults (ages 13 and older) – USD 18.99 pp + tax
- Children (ages 4 to 12) – USD 11.99 pp + tax
There is no charge for children who are aged three years and under. However, all children must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
Is Mystic Caverns Cold?
The caverns enjoy a comfortable temperature of 59 degrees F throughout the year, irrespective of the time of the year.
What to Wear?
The inside temperature of the cave remains comfortable throughout the year. So, there is no need to wear any jacket or woolen when coming to the cave. You can wear a thin, full-sleeved shirt or T-shirt and appropriate bottom wear when you come to Mystic Caverns.
The cave opens at 9 am and shuts down at 5 pm (Monday to Saturday) except Sundays.
The caverns remain closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve Day, and Christmas Day.
What to Do at Mystic Caverns (Beside Tours)
When you visit the caverns, you will find many other things to do apart from caving. There is a good variety of natural and historical sites nearby, and it makes sense to visit at least a few.
Boone County Heritage Museum
If you are a first-timer and want to learn more about the region’s past, then the Boone County Heritage Museum is a good place to start. The museum’s admission cost is not high, and the museum has a fine collection of artifacts, exhibits, and various items from the bygone era.
Buffalo River National Park
If you are an outdoor enthusiast looking forward to something more than the Mystic Caverns, the Buffalo River National Park is perfect. It is home to more than 100 miles of trails within the park; there is so much to see and cover that you need to make a rough plan before starting the trail.
Best Time to Visit
The caverns remain open for public tours throughout the year. So one can visit the caves any time of the year at their convenience. However, the month of January is best avoided as it is the flooding season.
How to Get to Mystic Caverns
The beautiful caverns are located on the National Scenic 7 Byway in Arkansas, eight miles south of Harrison. To get to the place quickly, you can look out for the defunct amusement park Dogpatch USA. The cave is near this abandoned theme park.
Hotels near Mystic Caverns
There is a wide range of options if you are looking for a place to stay nearby. The area does not have a campsite, but many cabins and cottages offer spectacular views of the Ozark Mountains. Some of the notable accommodation options nearby include –
- Azalea Falls Lodge
- Beckham Creek Cave Lodge
- Cave Creek Cabin
- Hampton Inn
- Hotel Seville
- Super 8 Motel
Places To Stay Nearby
Download our Mystic Caverns Guide (Unofficial)
Visiting Mystic Caverns
Do you need more information before visiting? Call +1 – 888 – 743 – 1739 or write a snail mail to PO Box 1301, Harrison, AR 72602, for an information packet.
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