Ultimate Guide to Onyx Cave, Arkansas (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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If you are looking for an activity in Arkansas that the whole family can enjoy, you must check out Onyx Cave at Eureka Springs. The visitors have been flocking to the oldest show cave in the state since it was discovered in 1893. When you come here, bring your camera to explore this unique attraction from the 19th century. The kids love the cave tour as it can be as long or as quick as you want it to be. However, pets or strollers are not allowed inside the cave.
Onyx Cave, Arkansas
The cave is full of beautiful geological formations, which indicates that, like many other caves in Arkansas, Onyx Cave is a karst cave. The caves in Arkansas are living, and Onyx Cave is no exception. The rocky décor of the cave is simply magical, and it only gets better when you go deeper and deeper into it.
History of Onyx Cave
Arkansas is full of naturally occurring caves that can be found all over the state. Some are large, and some are small, but all these caves are fascinating to look at for those who like caves. If you are a cave lover, you should not miss a chance to check out one of the oldest show caves in Arkansas, the Onyx Cave.
The Onyx cave was discovered in 1891, and it was turned into a show cave in 1893. But it was first mentioned in the accounts of pioneer ranchers who came to the area in the 1880s. The cave got its name from the huge number of flowstone formations inside it. It is important to note that the show caves did not get the same respect and understanding that they get today in the early days.
In the 1940s and 1950s, the cave became a hotspot for adventurous people, and they never used to think twice before snapping off a souvenir on their visit to the show caves so that they could show it to their friends and relatives back home. They never thought that these formations were irreplaceable, and they looked better inside the caves only.
In 1963, the cave’s entrance was gated in an effort to preserve the remaining beauty of this cave. The gate was dynamited after a short time, and no further efforts were made to preserve the cave until 1974, when the entrance was again gated. Since then, many repair projects have been taken up to bring back some of the lost glory of this magnificent cave.
So, the onyx cave has seen a lot of unthinkable destruction in the early years. But, despite all these, the cave has managed to retain its subterranean charm and remains one of the must-visit places in Arkansas.
Geological Cave Formations in Onyx Cave
The onyx cave is filled with fascinating geological formations of fascinating shapes – stalagmites, stalactites, and weird flowstone formations. The cave got its name from one of these formations. Flowstone, also known as the cave onyx, is a smooth, sheetlike formation found in the caves.
The weird shapes are formed by the minerals deposited by the flowing water over thousands of years. The flowstones typically contain calcite and other carbonate materials but not onyx. Despite this, many caves in the US have onyx in their names derived from the flowstone found inside them.
Wildlife in Onyx Cave
Occasional sightings of many small animals and insects are expected at Onyx Cave. Many have reported seeing chipmunks, squirrels, red and gray foxes in this area.
Is Onyx Cave Haunted?
Many people have reported unusual sightings at Onyx Cave, but all these are unverified reports. The cave is officially not haunted, and apart from the few unconfirmed sightings, nobody has ever seen anything weird here.
How Big is Onyx Cave?
Onyx Cave is one of the oldest show caves in Arkansas but not necessarily one of the biggest ones. It is a decent-sized cave, but the cave tour completes a full tour of the cave in just 30 odd minutes.
Onyx Cave Tours
Onyx Cave Tour is the main attraction that both adults and children can enjoy. The tour comes with headphones that might look old, but they do an excellent job. It is a 30-minute self-guided, audio tour and as you walk, you will reach stations with buttons that will start the audio. In some areas, the lights are triggered as you listen to see what is being talked about on the headphones.
The cave tour is not long, and when you reach the end of it, you can walk back and enjoy the cave from a different perspective. We suggest that you walk back without using headphones so that you experience and enjoy the silence of the cave. You will love the cave tour as there are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the cave.
When doing the cave tour, remember not to touch any of the formations as it can prevent growth and even damage the cave. Secondly, you must wear good quality shoes as they tend to become wet and dirty. It does make sense if you can carry an extra pair of clothes with you when you come to the cave.
Onyx Cave Tour Prices and Discounts
- Adults: USD 10 +tax
- Children (4 to 13 years): USD 6 + tax
- Children (3 and under): FREE
Is Onyx Cave Cold?
Onyx Cave enjoys an average temperature of 57 degrees F (13.8 degrees C) throughout the year. All visitors are advised to dress appropriately.
What to Wear?
The temperature inside Onyx Cave remains constant throughout the year, and some may feel that it is a bit chilly. So, we recommend that you carry at least a light jacket so that you don’t feel the cold.
Onyx Cave Hours
- Monday to Saturday – 9 am to 5 pm,
- Sunday – 10 am to 4 pm
What to Do at Onyx Cave (Beside Tours)
The Onyx Cave Tour is undoubtedly the main highlight of your trip to this cave in Eureka Springs. But there are some other spots that you can explore after the cave tour is over.
Onyx Cave Gift Shop
Onyx Cave Gift Shop is a fantastic place where you will find a wide range of fossils on sale. The descriptive signs next to these fossils tell you about the different types of fossils. They have smaller rocks with fish and trilobites for less than USD 5, and they also have a large fossil of a Mosasauras jawbone priced at USD 700. A wide range of rocks and gems are on display for sale and some of these are being sold in the form of jewelry.
Onyx Cave Gem Dig
Onyx Cave Mining Company bags are available in the gift shop, with which you can go for gem panning. There are options for different gems and rocks, but the fossil dig bag is the most popular one. There are many areas for panning, and the gift shop employees are always there to help you pan for the fossils. The fossils that you will find are of different shapes and sizes.
More Things to Do at Onyx Cave
A brand-new event has been added to make your trip to Onyx Cave more exciting. The Axe Throwing experience is unique and involves lots of fun. One needs to call up Onyx Cave at (479) 253 – 9321 to schedule the Axe Throwing.
Best Time to Visit Onyx Caves
Entry to Onyx Cave is open throughout the year. So, you can come here at any time but do carry a light jacket with you as the inside is a bit chilly.
How to Get to Onyx Cave
The cave is seven miles from the downtown area, and it takes around 15 min to reach here. One will see many signs along the way, and if you are using GPS, you should not have any issue in arriving here.
Exit on 281 and proceed towards road 83 SE, and for about 21.2 miles, please turn right on Gardner Canyon Road or FS road 92. Continue travel on this unpaved road for 5.7 miles and park on undesignated parking. The trail to the Onyx cave is on the ride side of the road and hike for .5 miles. Look for the cave opening with the USFS designation seal as C-203. You can check the directions here.
Hotels near Onyx Cave
Suppose you are looking for accommodation near Onyx Cave. In that case, you will not be disappointed as there are several quality hotels within a short distance of the cave, such as Country Mountain Inn, Apple Blossom Inn, & Best Western Inn of the Ozarks.
Download our Onyx Cave Guide (Unofficial)
Visiting Onyx Cave
Do you need more information before visiting Onyx Caves? Call (479) 253 – 9321 for an information packet.
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