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We pack in so many fun things over the summer that it can be a little disappointing as summer winds down and we start to feel the pressures of school, earlier bedtimes and the changing seasons. Arkansas is full of adventures, but as we head into the fall and winter, my family has decided to prioritize exploring at least one of Arkansas’s Caves each month.
Caves are great because their temperatures are pretty consistent all year long. That means they will cool you off on those hot summer days and keep you feeling comfortable even when it’s cold and rainy above ground. Plus, there are so many interesting things to see in caves that you just won’t find in the forests or fields of Arkansas.
A few years ago, OnlyinArk writer Kimberly Mitchell shared about these incredible underground adventures along with a wealth of safety tips and information on “wild caving” and how to join caving groups to explore some caves and grottos not accessible to the general public. Her post is a wealth of information, but today, I will help you discover some of Arkansas’s show caves that are easy to access for families and people with disabilities.
After closing in 2020, Blanchard Springs Caverns has reopened today, August 18, 2022, to the public and cave tours have resumed. This three-level show cave is a favorite in Arkansas. Two of the caves can be explored on various tours including the Dripstone Trail, which is fully accessible. The cave is open year-round and stays a constant 58 degrees F. Staff is unsure if the Caroling in the Caverns tours will return this year, but it’s worth hearing when you get the opportunity.
Blanchard Springs Caverns follows federal mask mandates based on local levels of COVID transmission. Call ahead to find out if masks will be required for visitors.
The natural entrance makes War Eagle Cavern stand out amongst other caves. Travel beside an underwater stream and explore the incredible domes and formations throughout the cave. Guided tours leave every 20 minutes and last about one hour. Watch for bats and salamanders as you explore and check out the Moonshiners Mystery Shack. Lantern tours and wild cave tours are also available with advanced reservations.
One of the highlights of visiting War Eagle Cavern is panning for gems. Be sure to leave time in your schedule for this fun activity.
Considered one of the oldest limestone caverns in the Ozarks, Bull Shoals Caverns is home to salamanders, pipistrelle bats and an incredible cathedral room. Bull Shoals also hosts school field trips and can even be rented for a unique wedding setting. The caves are closed for the season from December through March, so it’s the perfect cave for exploring in the hot summer months.
Onyx Cave is a Eureka Springs treasure. In addition to exploring the cave via an accessible trail, guests can mine gems, practice ax-throwing skills and get out frustrations in the smash lab. It’s a unique outing that the whole family will enjoy. Cave tours are radio-guided and will take about 30 minutes to complete.
338 Onyx Cave Lane,
Eureka Springs, AR
Photo courtesy of Cosmic Cavern
What’s your optimum temperature? Cosmic Cavern, Arkansas’s largest privately owned show cave, stays 64 degrees all year-round. It’s the perfect spot to cool down on a hot day and warm up on a cold day. The ⅓-mile, one-hour walking tour will lead you past all kinds of cave formations, including a 9-foot-long soda straw. The cave system is also home to two bottomless lakes, one that wasn’t discovered until 1993.
Cosmic Cavern is perfect for families but does have several sets of stairs and is not stroller or wheelchair friendly. Several wild cave tours are available. Be sure to visit their website for a printable coupon to save up to $2 off your admission ticket.
Goonies lovers will be fascinated with the stories of an ancient Spanish treasure hidden deep within Treasure Hollow. Since the 1800s, many attempts have been made to locate the treasure which has yet to be found. Perhaps you will see something experts have missed as you explore the ⅓-mile-long trail into the cave.
After you’ve walked through the cave, you can sluice for gems and explore the gift shop. My favorite part of the Old Spanish Treasure Cave happens after they close down the tours and set up for movie night. The movie lineup is announced a few weeks in advance and tickets must be purchased online. Who wouldn’t love watching a movie in a cave? It’s a unique experience for the whole family.
If you love a good mystery, you will enjoy a visit to Blowing Cave. This wild cave is not your typical touring cave. Blowing Cave has been in use in one way or another since the 1880s. Locals often visited the cave hosting gatherings and dances. Since at least the 1950s, the cave has been the subject of many tales alleging paranormal activity, aliens, ghosts and passageways that lead to secret underworlds inhabited by a mysterious race of Blue People.
The cave is located on private property but can be toured by appointment or during one of their weekly open house events. Nearly a mile and a half of the cave has been mapped by a Little Rock Grotto club and visitors can explore (at their own risk) much of the first section of the cave. To access the cave, you must make a short hike to the entrance. Sturdy shoes and headlamps are suggested.
Call 870-668-6254 to schedule an appointment or follow their Facebook Page for open house announcements and instructions.
This incredible privately owned cave in Pindall was sold to new owners in early 2022. There is no word yet on when cave tours will resume, but you can follow their Facebook page for updates on the remodeling process.
Previously one of Arkansas’s longest-running cave tours, Mystic Caverns closed unexpectedly in November 2021. The cave’s owner, Steve Rush, had been trying to sell the cave for some time before it was mysteriously shut down. There is no word yet on whether the cave has sold or when it will be reopened. Some sources indicate it may have been purchased by Johnny Morris of Bass Pro Shops who recently purchased neighboring Dogpatch USA, but no official word has been issued.
Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism unless otherwise noted.
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