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12 Best Underground Caves To Explore in Missouri

By | Last Updated : 18th November 2019

Adventure-seeking travelers always try to find their enthusiasm inside mysterious caverns. Missouri, significantly known as “The Cave State,” has aptly occupied the mind and soul of the most daunting explorers from all over the globe. These jaw-dropping and hair-raising escapades take the spirit of the tourers to a new frenzy level of exuberance.

Caves in Missouri

1. Meramec Caverns, Sullivan

Meramec Caverns Caves in Missouri

Best Meramec Caverns Caves in Missouri Cool Meramec Caverns Caves in Missouri

Formerly known as Saltpeter Cave, this is the  biggest commercial cave in Missouri state. Discovered in 1933, it is located near St. Louis in the Ozark Mountains. The 4.6-mile-long cave system was used as a hideout by notorious Jesse James and his gang in the 1870s. It happened to be the Headquarters during the American Civil War, and soldiers used gunpowder, which can still be seen as deposits in the cave. With an annual footfall of over 150,000 tourists, this distinct underground cavern is gradually formed by millions of years limestone deposits. Besides, mysterious apparitions have also been reported by numerous travelers.

Attractions:

  • The faded yellow colored crystals are illumined by kaleidoscopic display showcasing gigantic stalactites hanging like shark teeth from the roof.
  • Trippers can enjoy the light and sound show of “Greatest Show Under the Earth,” which happens to be a large sheet of a wall.
  • Visitors can also go to the “Wine Room or Table,” a rarest formation of six feet high table-shaped rock supported by three natural legs situated in the fifth level of the cavern.
  • They can also watch a natural landscape of a “Seven-story Mansion”
  • There is a “Mirror Room” in the cavern, containing a stream of water of about 1.5 feet depth. Contrastinglythe depth of water seems as deep as 50 feet, due to the reflection of the ceiling, when lights are focussed on them.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

2. Jacob’s Cave, Versailles

Jacob's Cave in Missouri

Best Jacob's Cave in Missouri Cool Jacob's Cave in Missouri

It is one of the largest commercialized and privately owned underground caverns of the state, opened in 1932. The cave is famous for the deep underwater delusions, reflective pools, ceiling formations, the world’s largest geode or rock crystals, and ancient fossils. The temperature of the cave remains constant at 53°F all year-round. One can also observe the prominent signs formed by the last six ice ages and three earthquakes.

Attractions:

  • Excursionist can see breathtaking rock formations like millions of thin rock straws, and huge stalactites in the one-mile tour.
  • Fully-lit concrete pavements help tourers to explore the fascinating rocky landscape. Again, it is a perfect place for persons in wheelchairs or carrying a baby.
  • For intrepid explorers, interested in scuba diving in Missouri cave, this spot can prove to be a hotspot.

Hours of Operation:

  • Spring & Summer (9 a.m.- 5 p.m.)
  • Fall & Winter (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

3. Mark Twain Cave & Campground, Hannibal

Formerly known as the McDowell’s Cave, it is one of the oldest subsurface systems, which include the Cameron Caves, having inspired the famous work of Mark Twain, ‘The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.’ The cave is enlisted as the National Natural Landmark, with around 260 unique intersecting patterns shaped passages all along its hour-long tour. It is one of the cool caves in Missouri with a constant temperature of 52°F. The entire tour route is adequately lit accompanied with flat and smooth pavements, but proper walking shoes are recommended as there are no stairs. It is located on the Route 79, just two miles south of the historic town of Hannibal. Moreover, the bandit, Jesse James, was another infamous visitor to the cave, and one can even find his name carved in any corner of the cave. Countless visitors have also seen spooky shadows in the underground place.

Attractions:

  • Travellers can participate in a famous tour of the Cameron Cave lasting for 1 hour and 20 minutes, where the tourists carry the lanterns and flashlights, showcasing the imagination of the first exploration in 1925.
  • Besides, there is an attraction outside the cave for the children known as “Sticks, Stones, and Bones”, where the kids enjoy fun activities like digging out fossils or finding out semi-precious stones.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (10 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

4. Bluff Dweller’s Cave, Noel

Bluff Dweller’s Cave in Missouri

Best Bluff Dweller’s Cave in Missouri Cool Bluff Dweller’s Cave in Missouri

This cave, discovered in 1925, is one of the best caves in southwest Missouri, as it was created during the Paleozoic Era by water erosions in the St. Joe Limestone. The unique name of the cavern comes from the Paleo-Indians who populated the subterranean area some 12,000 years back. It was opened for the commons in 1927 and had an elaborate and explored passageways of approximately 4000 feet. The cavern displays ancient articles, including various tools made out of bone, grinding stones, and stone weapons dating way back to 5000 B.C. The entire tour is guided by experts taking around an hour and is limited in size due to a lack of cave routes.

Attractions:

  • The tourist can find an excellent pool formed by rimstones measuring 2.5 cm in thickness and 23 meters in length.
  • Besides, the tripper can see the Musical Chimes, which is a curtain of hollow rocky stalactites producing a musical tempo.
  • Another impressive mineral formation, called the “10 Ton Balanced Rock” is proportionately balanced on two rocky pillars.
  • Moreover, one can walk to watch a variety of cave wildlife like the grotto salamander, eastern pipistrelle bat, and the albino cave crayfish.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (10 a.m.– 5 p.m.)

5. Smallin Civil War Cave, Ozark

Smallin Civil War Cave in Missouri

Best Smallin Civil War Cave in Missouri Cool Smallin Civil War Cave in Missouri

Among the best caves to visit in Missouri, the Smallin Civil War Cave offers an hour-long guided tour focusing on the geology, history, and mythological significance of the 1/2 mile long cavern. This subsurface tour does not have stairs, but provides natural slope and is quite reachable for disabled, and other tourists. The entrance of the cave is 55 feet tall and 100 feet wide. This mystifying under-the-earth hollow attracts travelers with a glimpse of Ozark history. There is a free picnic area with a snack shop on the premises.

Attractions:

  • Holidaymakers can take the one mile long underground “Off-Trail Wild Tour”, which directs them in 54°F knee-deep water. The tour can be booked by reservation and takes about two hours to witness remarkable complex rock formations, including a mushroom type rock structure. Tourers need to put on a helmet fixed with durable headlamps available on a rental basis.
  • In October, visitors can explore the cave with the “Civil War Lantern Tour” every Saturday, which ends with a campfire delicacy and narration.
  • One can also observe a celestial wonder from December 21-28 when the sun lines up with an ancient rock formation.
  • Additionally, trippers can view the markings of the Osage Tribes on the hard calcite deposits chiseled to mark the end of their hunting period.

Hours of Operation:

  • From March till December – Monday to Saturday (9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.) & Sunday (1-5 p.m.)

6. Graham Cave, Graham Cave State Park, Danville

Graham Cave in Missouri

Best Graham Cave in Missouri Graham Cave State Park in Missouri

The subsurface system of the 386-acre Graham Cave is made from sandstone. Prehistoric artifacts occupy the cavern, which were once used by ancient people over 10,000 years ago. The approach to the cave opens in a 60 feet high and 120 feet wide passage, which leads to a rocky cavern stretching about 100 feet in length.

Attractions:

  • The vacationer can visit the Graham Cave Glades Natural Area, which is an 82 acres forest consisting of an open area of sandstone and dolomite formations.
  • Visitors can witness diversified fauna in the state park-like, coyote, beaver, raccoons, white-tailed deer, and also native flora like prickly pear cactus, purple prairie clover, among others.
  • One can also enjoy boating on the Loutre River at the south end of the park from a concrete boat ramp. Professional anglers do fishing in the river to catch bluegill or catfish. Timings for both the activity is in between 7 a.m. to sunset.

Hours of Operation:

  • Summer Hours (On-season) – April to October (Daily 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Winter Hours (Off-season) – November to March (Weekdays – 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 1 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.). Closed on weekends.

7. Onondaga Cave, Onondaga Cave State Park, Leasburg

Onondaga Cave in Missouri

Best Onondaga Cave in Missouri Cool Onondaga Cave State Park in Missouri

The Onondaga Caves in Missouri is certified as a National Natural Landmark falling within the perimeter of Onondaga Cave State Park. This cavern has the most distinctive rock deposits packed with imposing stalagmites, suspended stalactites, and countless calcite formations. It takes around one and a half hours for the excursionist to explore the one-mile extended subterrestrial area. The temperature of the underground cavern system is uniform at 57° F throughout the year, so jackets are advisable for trippers. The Meramec River, which runs at a proximal distance from the cave, is nourished by numerous springs.

Attractions:

  • Electric-powered lights lit the concrete passageways within the cavern allures tourers to witness the fantastic rock and natural calcium carbonate formations.
  • Travelers can enjoy kayaking, canoeing, rafting, and tubing in the close by Meramec River. The “93.7, The Bull Float Trip” is an annual river canoeing, kayaking, and tube loop festival.
  • Apart from camping facilities, the premises also offer walking and biking pursuits. One can also go fishing in the nearby Meramec River.

Hours of Operation:

  • Summer time (On-Season): – March – Friday to Sunday (9 a.m. – 5 p.m.); whereas April to October (Daily – 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.)
  • Winter time (Off-Season): November to February (closed)

8. Marvel Cave, Branson

Marvel Cave in Missouri

Best Marvel Cave in Missouri Cool Marvel Cave in Missouri

The Marvel Cave in Branson, Missouri, is a National Natural Landmark that sits prettily on the top of Roark Mountain. Initially known as the Marble Cave, it is one of the broadest and deepest cavern systems in Missouri opened in 1894, going up to 505 feet underground. The silver dollar city, a theme park is opened later on the ground above the cave. The entire tour lasts around an hour, with each trip conducted every half-hour. Due to the arduous nature of the tour, including nearly 600 stairs of back-breaking challenges and acute steep inclination, tourers with poor health conditions are not permitted to take part.

Attractions:

  • The 204 feet high, 225 feet wide and 411 feet long cave entrance known as the Cathedral Room, believed to be the country’s largest, and also amongst the largests in the world.
  • The winding staircase carries explorers to nearly 94 feet below the ground level.
  • Two cave tours are open for public, with the guided “Traditional Cave Tour” being the most popular. Stairs take the tourists to 500 feet underground area, while a cable car transports them back to the surface.
  • Another tour named the “Lantern Cave Tour” provides unique lanterns to the excursionists taking them to unknown depths not visited on the other trip.
  • One can also witness the exquisite naturally formed structure like the “Blondie’s Throne”, a calcite deposit near the end of the cave tour. Others like the “Liberty Bell” or “The Great White Throne”, a 55 feet tall stalagmite, and The Sentinel, a column in the Cathedral Room, is notable.

Hours of Operation:

  • Open seasonally from March to January (9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.)

9. Bridal Cave, Camdenton

Bridal Cave in Missouri

Best Bridal Cave in Missouri Cool Bridal Cave in Missouri

The Bridal Cave in the Ozarks of Missouri is a breathtaking cave system located underneath the Thunder Mountain. The cave’s name descended from an event of a native couple’s marriage that occurred some centuries ago. Since then, it became the most admired cave wedding destination for modern couples. This cave in Missouri is one of the breathtaking caverns of massive columns of stalactites and stalagmites.

Attractions:

  • Visitors can take a guided tour of around an hour of the subterrane, filled with astonishing and delicate soda straws of calcium carbonate formations.
  • They can moreover go to the ill-famed “Mystery Lake” 40 feet wide and 140 feet long, with sparkling clean water.
  • The “Spirit Lake” section on the way to the “Mystery Lake”, is 80 feet wide and nearly 600 feet in length.
  • Besides, between the “Mystery Lake” and the “Spirit Lake”, a unique naturally room can be witnessed known as Paradise Island.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (9 a.m. – 4 p.m.)

10. Devils Well, Salem

Devils Well in Missouri

Best Devils Well in Missouri Cool Devils Well in Missouri

Devil’s well is a totally admission-free limestone cave, including a huge underground lake in Missouri. The lake measuring 100 feet wide by 400 feet in length and depths of nearly 100 feet, is the largest in the state. It is a part of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways tour. The underground lake can be seen from a hole of a massive sinkhole shaped by a broken roof of the subsurface area. Moreover, a spiral staircase is erected for better observation. Travelers can go to the surface of the lake from the entrance in an astounding 100 feet of vertical drop.

Attractions:

  • Visitors can witness several waterfalls of different heights in the subterranean hollow.
  • Lucky trippers may also find rare fauna in the underground lake like the sculpin fish, blind cavefish, Salem cave crayfish.
  • Besides, one can take the 4.6-mile-long trek that leads from “Devils Well” to “Cave Spring”, whereby they observe the path of the water going out of “Devils Well”.
  • More fearless travelers can opt for scuba diving in this Missouri cave’s subterranean lake.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily, during daylight hours

11. Onyx Cave, Newburg

Onyx Cave in Missouri

Best Onyx Cave in Missouri Cool Onyx Cave in Missouri

Among the best caves in Pulaski County, Missouri, this Cave is also known as the “King Cave” and “Boiling Springs Cave”. The entire tour is around an hour, with concrete full lit pathways attached to guardrails. The cavern was enlisted under the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

Attractions:

  • Trippers can witness usual stone formations like stalactites and stalagmites, among other rocky landscapes.
  • One of the highlighting features is the 35 feet tall crystalline cave onyx mineral, which has a pure white to cream color accompanied by red-colored markings.
  • The main room of this natural cave measures 250 feet in length, 85 feet in width, and 33 feet in height, including two walkways.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.)

12. Fantastic Caverns, Springfield

Fantastic Caverns in Missouri

Best Fantastic Caverns in Missouri Cool Fantastic Caverns in Missouri

This underground cavern found in 1862 is the only ride-through cave in Missouri, and also in the entire North America. It is the longest known cave  in Greene County, featuring many rare species of cave fauna that will not survive outside this ecosystem. Due to the sensitive nature of the atmosphere inside the underground area, the tour mainly operates in propane-fuelled jeep-like tramcar that takes around 55 minutes. More than 3 km of subterranean space is charted to date. The temperature inside fluctuates about 60°F.

Attractions:

  • Massive columns are spanning right from the roof to the floor and straw-like formations with sparkling minerals. Also, lucky persons may even find little cave pearls camouflaged in the sparkling underground water.

Hours of Operation:

  • Daily (8 a.m. – 5 p.m.); except on Thanksgiving Day, Xmas Eve and Xmas Day.

The impressive caves and sub-terrestrial hollows of Missouri unleash innumerable thrilling attractions and have always captured the imaginations of travelers around the world. These mind-blowing experiences stimulated by an inborn bent for an expedition to discover the unknown has turned regular tourists into intrepid globetrotters of the next generation.

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