Caves in Missouri and around Lake of the Ozarks

Caves in Missouri and Surrounding
Lake of the Ozarks

Missouri is truly the cave state, with over 5,380 registered and mapped wild caves. 300 of the wild caves are in the counties of Camden, Miller, and Morgan which surround the Lake of the Ozarks.

Show Caves are wild caves that have been "tamed" through tremendous work and expense. Paved walkways, bridges and hand rails have been constructed and lights have been installed for the convenience of viewing nature's underground beauty with little effort and very safely. They are for the whole family, from small children to grandparents. No special clothing or equipment is necessary.

Want-to-be spelunkers can experience geology, hydrology and anthropology in these underground classrooms. There are awe-inspiring formations, composed over millions of years, including massive columns, huge stalagmites, millions of "soda straws," balanced ecosystems, animal life, plant life and history. One of the best things about visiting a cave is that no matter what the weather or season, the temperature is approximately 50-60 degrees year-round, varying slightly with each cave.

The Lake area is blessed with four show caves (out of Missouri's 22) and is the only tourist destination in the United States with four show caves within 30 miles of each other. So, no matter where you stay at the Lake, you're not far from one of our beautiful underground caverns. A 93 mile triangular drive around the Lake of the Ozarks will take you from cave to cave and reveal--along the way--the fantastic scenery for which the Lake area is known.

Tours are conducted by courteous, informative guides who can point out fascinating features about cave life. For example, Lake caves support four different types of salamanders that live their entire lives without ever seeing the light of day. Guides also provide historical information flavored by colorful local stories.

Bridal Cave, just north of Camdenton, off Hwy. 5 on Lake Road 5-88, can also be reached by water on the 10 1/2 mile marker on the Big Niangua Arm of the Lake. This is the cave that Amy and I recommend the most. It is about ten (10) miles away from us and costs around $12 during the season. Bridal Cave is the oldest cave in the Lake area. It was formed by the Ozark upheaval when the Ozark Mountains were formed 42-46 million years ago and is adorned with massive columns, stalactites, stalagmites and draperies from the start to beyond the end of the tour at the sparkling crystal clear Spirit Lake. Bridal Cave, in keeping with the tradition of the Indian legend has hosted over 1325 weddings in the stalactite adorned Bridal Chapel.

Jacob's Cave, off of TT, north of Gravois Mills, is the largest cave in the Lake area and is the only walk through cave in Missouri that is completely accessible to persons with disabilities. Baby strollers and wheel chairs are available for those who need them. Jacob's Cave is famous for its depth illusion, reflective pools, ceiling sponge-work, prehistoric bones (Mastadon, bear, and Peccary), and the world's largest Geode. On the mile-long tour, you will see every type of cave formation imaginable, from millions of soda straws, massive stalactites and columns, to delicate helectites. Evidence of six ice ages and 3 earthquakes can be seen.

Fantasy World Caverns is located in a beautiful valley setting off of Hwy. 54 between Bagnell Dam and Eldon. First inhabited by Indians, it was later used by white men for a dance hall and later a skating rink, before it was developed into a Show cave. Fantasy World Caverns has 3 levels with a large lake in the entrance, large domed ceilings draped with iron stained formations, two natural water falls and canyon passages; each turn and each room an intriguing surprise of beauty.

Ozark Caverns is a state owned cave. Great care is taken not to disturb anything of nature. The cave stream exits the mouth of the cave and forms a fin in front of the cave (fresh water swamp); too shallow for fish, but just right for a vast array of exotic plant and animal life native to this area. Ozark Caverns is famous for its Angels Shower, a must for any cave enthusiast. Tours are conducted through the cave with electric lanterns.

Touring the Show Caves at the Lake of the Ozarks offers a day of fascinating experience and unforgettable fun for the whole family. You will want to plan a half a day around visiting one of these caves. The kids will love it!

Information provided by Frank Hurley, Owner of Jacob's Cave

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