The state of Missouri has some great tourist attractions—The Arch and Forest Park in St. Louis; the city of Branson, which “Puts the Show in the Show Me State;” The Royals, KC Sporting and The Chiefs in Kansas City; And the Archery Hall of Fame, Battle of Carthage State Historic Site and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in Springfield.
But did you also know that the Show-Me State is also home to more than 6,400 recorded caves? That’s right! More than any other state. And although most are not open to the general public, visitors can find over a dozen dotted all over the state, each offering a different perspective on these natural wonders that have stood the test of time. One of the most well-known show caves in the state is Fantastic Caverns. Located in Springfield it is America’s only ride-thru cave, extending one mile-long and following an ancient underground river.
The first documented cave in the Ozark region was Smallin Civil War Cave, The cave offers both very accessible guided cave trail tours, as well as off-the-beaten-path “Wild Cave Tours” over rugged terrain in at least two feet deep water with only headlamps to guide your way.
Several of Missouri’s show caves are conducted by lantern-light, including Round Spring Cavern, situated 16 miles north of the town of Eminence, and Cathedral Cave in Onondaga Cave State Park south of Leasburg. Just three miles south of the town of Stanton you will find intrigue and adventure at Meramec Caverns, the state’s largest commercial show cave, and reportedly used as a hideout by notorious outlaw Jesse James and his gang of thieves.
One of the most stunning show caves is Bridal Cave, in Camdenton, which has attracted over 2,200 couples from around the world who have exchanged their wedding vows amidst the backdrop of the caves stunning, natural stalactite-adorned “chapel.” It truly is a marvel that the entrance to Marvel Cave—the Cathedral Room—reaches 204 feet high, 225 feet wide and 411 feet long. Representing the deepest show cave in Missouri (located in Branson under the Silver Dollar City theme park), Marvel Cave is also a Registered Natural Landmark.
How about a four-story cave highlighted by spectacular natural rock formations, waterfalls, a cave bar accessible and a mining-style elevator which is what adventure seekers will find at Lost Canyon Cave in Ridgedale. Perhaps the most unique show cave experience Missouri has to offer is scuba diving in the world-renowned Roubidoux Spring Cave. Located in the town of Waynesville, the cave is open to all certified cave divers during the spring, thrilling these adventure seekers with an average daily water flow of 37 million gallons!
This is just the beginning of all the underground cave fun you will find in Missouri. For more show cave information, or to find listings for thousands of other exciting Missouri attractions, events and vacation ideas, check out the Missouri Division of Tourism website at www.VisitMO.com.