Cave Exploring

Going Underground

Missouri is truly the cave state, with 6,300 registered and mapped "wild" caves. Camden, Miller, and Morgan counties, which surround the Lake of the Ozarks, are home to 300 of these wild caves.

A Trip Deep Below the Surface of 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 nature¹s underground beauty with little effort and very safely. No special clothing or equipment is necessary. Want-to-be spelunkers can experience geology, hydrology, and anthropology in these underground classrooms. 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: warm in the winter, cool in the summer. The Lake area is blessed with four show caves (out of Missouri's 22) and is one of the only tourist destinations in the United States with four show caves within 30 miles of each other.

For complete information on the Lake of the Ozarks show caves visit the attractions page and search for "Sports & Outdoors."

Bridal Cave (just north of Camdenton, off Highway 5 on Lake Road 5-88) can also be reached by water on the 10.5 mile marker on the Big Niangua Arm of the Lake. 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 3,000 weddings in the stalactite adorned Bridal Chapel.

Jacob's Cave (north Highway 5 on State Road TT, north of Gravois Mills) is the largest cave in the Lake area and is a "walk through" cave which is completely accessible to persons with disabilities. 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 three earthquakes can be seen.

Stark Caverns (from Bagnell Dam go East on Highway 54 about 6.5 miles and turn left on Cave Drive) was first used by animals for shelter and winter hibernation. You can see the bear beds along the pathway. The cave was also used by Native Americans and many artifacts have been found in the cave. Later settlers used the cave for storage of goods and production of moonshine. In the late 1800's and early 1900's, they built a ballroom. The ballroom area was also used as a speakeasy during prohibition. Stark Caverns also includes a large underground lake and a wide variety of formations including helectites, helegmites, soda straws, flowstone, dripstone, unsurpassed spongework, cave coral, and stromatolite fossils.

Ozark Caverns is a state owned cave, located off A Road. Ozark Caverns is famous for its Angels Shower, a treat for any cave enthusiast. 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. It is also a "walk through" and ADA accessible.


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