Fantastic Caverns, Springfield, MO

We had originally planned to spend just one night in Springfield, MO, so we could go to the Springfield Brewing Company.  However, along the way we saw a lot of billboards advertising the Fantastic Caverns, America’s only ride-through cave, so we decided to spend another night so we could visit them.  That turned out to be a fortuitous choice because that day, after the caverns, our car broke down.  We felt fortunate that it happened in a civilized place with a Subaru dealer rather than in the wilds of west Texas…  

At Fantastic Caverns you tour the cavern by riding in a jeep/trailer combo with a guide, who stops frequently to talk about the caverns.  This photo is of our guide, Wayne, and the original steam generator used to produce electricity to run the pumps at the cavern from 1887 to 1917.

The entrance you see in this photo was created, as was the road through the cave.  Shortly after getting into the cave, the guide offers an opportunity to touch the formations on the ceiling.  That helps with curiosity and limits the damage to the cave to a specific small area.  It is much easier on the cave to have the tourists ride through rather than walk.  

Cave lesson #1: normally one should never touch a live cave formation, because the oil from human skin inhibits further growth.  This is because water won’t flow over an oily surface the same way it does over a pristine one.  This photo shows a live formation.  Live formations are shiny and wet.  Dry formations probably are no longer growing. 

As you can see when you visit the photo album, this cave has some beautiful formations.

Cave lesson #2:  if it grows down from the ceiling it is a stalactite; if it grows up from the cave floor it is a stalagmite.  There is no such animal as a ‘stalagtite’ (there is actually such a reference in a Wikipedia article, and the article is not editable).

After a time of driving through the cave Wayne stopped our vehicle at a spot where there is a movie screen, and we watched a short movie about the cave.  The cave originally had several public uses, one of which was as a concert venue.

As you can see from the photos, this cave has many beautiful formations.  But there is more to the experience if you are interested.  After our tour of the cave, we took a walk on the canyon trail path that leads to the place where water exits from the cave.  It is a beautiful walk on a well-maintained path to a pond the water flows into.  Wayne had told us that people are still finding fossils there, and that if we were to find any we could take them home.

While we were wandering around at the edge of the pond, we happened on several rocks with fossils, which we did take home with us.  That is much better than buying fossils in the gift shop.

This was a trip definitely worth taking.  It is not the best cave we’ve ever seen but it is quite nice.

More information is available at their website:

Visit August 13, 2012

© Susan L. Stone 2015