Missouri is known as The Cave State for good reason. About 6,000 caves have been discovered in Missouri thanks to the karst topography that covers a large part of the state. In the area surrounding Springfield, caves are plentiful with many open to the public for tours like the one above. Karst is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum. It is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.

1Fantastic Caverns

courtesy springfieldmo.org


Perhaps the most famous.Fantastic Caverns, is well known for being one of the largest ride-through caves in North America. Guides stop throughout the cave and explain how the cave and its formations came to be, the group of 12 women who first explored it and how the cave has been used since it was discovered by a farmer’s dog in 1862. Its storied history includes being a speakeasy during Prohibition and a venue for country music shows in the massive part of the cave that provides perfect acoustics for musicians.

2Smallin Civil War Cave

courtesy of springfieldmo.org

Discovered in 1818, Smallin Civil War Cave features a breathtaking 10-story arch that leads you into rich human history and rare cave life. Guests will often see the rare bristly cave crayfish, endangered blind cave salamanders and various species of bats! The cave is open year-round for guided, half-mile walking tours and is accessible to strollers, wheelchairs and mobility scooters.

Talking Rocks Cavern,(see video above) is a vertical cave that guests can explore using concrete handrails and steps. First named Fairy Cave because it looked like “a subterranean fairy land,” the tour showcases mineral deposits and other geological formations that will leave you awestruck and amazed.

Add Giboney Cave at Doling Park in north Springfield, Marvel Cave at the Silver Dollar City theme park near Branson and others in the area, and there are plenty of subterranean adventures to explore.