Branson is located in the beautiful state of Missouri, also known as the Cave State, home to more than 5,600 caves! Many areas of Missouri's landscape are dotted with caves, both large and small; some are accessible on foot, others only while crawling on all fours! Several of the state's most fascinating caves can be found in the Branson area.
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Silver Dollar City Hosts Branson's "Marvel" of a Cave!
- The 500 foot Marvel Cave was discovered in the 16th century and named Devil's Den by the area's Osage Indians.
- There is evidence that the Spanish explored the cave in 1541; a Spanish ladder remains in the cave today.
- The name was changed to Marble Cave when the limestone in the cave was initially mistaken for marble. The effort wasn't for naught, miners were able to bring out a steady supply of bat guano for about four years.
- The entrance to the cave was created by a sinkhole; a pile of debris containing trees, rocks, and dirt that fell through the sinkhole over the years is referred to as the Underground Mountain.
- More than fifty years ago, the cave, now known as Marvel Cave, is where Silver Dollar City's tourism business began; the earliest buildings in the park were constructed near the cave to entertain those waiting for a tour.
- A trained guide takes guests through the cave; a tour for the physically fit as it involves extensive stair-climbing. The fairly constant 58 degree temperature makes for a pleasant trek through the cave at any time of year.
- You'll travel 300 feet below the surface to discover the breathtaking beauty of the Cathedral Room, the largest cave entrance room in the United States, and one of the largest in North America.
- The Cathedral Room measures 204 feet high, 225 feet in width, and 411 feet in length. It's so massive that, in 1994, five hot air balloons were flown in the room to celebrate the 100th anniversary of cave tours.
- Other areas of the cave include the Waterfall Room, Cloud Room, Spring Room, and the Dungeon.
- You can now see the recently re-opened Mammoth Room that hasn't been available for public tours since the 1950's. You can discover this part of the cave on a 90 minute Lantern Light tour (additional fee required.).
Discover the Branson Area's Only Talking Cave!
- Naturally, the cave doesn't actually talk to anyone, but its beauty did speak to explorer Waldo Powell who proclaimed, "the rock shapes are so powerful, they talk to me;" hence the name, Talking Rocks Cavern.
- The stunningly beautiful cavern was discovered in 1883 when two boys chased a rabbit beneath a large rock on the hillside. Around 1896, Truman Powell was recruited to lead an exploration into the cave.
- The exploration led to the discovery of exquisite formations, one that in the light and shadow resembled a giant angel with head bowed and wings outstretched; the cave was given its original name of Fairy Cave.
- Not only considered a gift of nature with its glistening crystal landscape, Talking Rocks is also an engineering marvel of the 1920's when concrete steps were installed along the pathways, as well as creative lighting.
- There are many different ways to enjoy time in the pleasant 63 degree cavern, including walking tours or participating in the Cave Science or Gem Mining programs.
Missouri's Caves are Truly Fantastic...Especially Fantastic Caverns!
- Fantastic Caverns, located in nearby Springfield, was discovered by a farmer and his dog in 1862; it was officially explored five years later by 12 women from the community.
- It's the only ride-through cave in America, and one of just four in the entire world; the others are in France, Barbados, and Yugoslavia.
- The temperature in the cave year-round is a cozy 60 degrees.
- During Prohibition, the caverns were used as a speakeasy; in the 1950's and 60's, they hosted music concerts.
- The beauty of the cave is vulnerable; to protect it, tours are given in trams pulled by propane-powered Jeeps, wisely allowing controlled access and keeping the cavern's gorgeous surfaces in pristine condition.
- Fantastic Caverns offers educational programs for schoolchildren, student field trips, and adventure tours.
Discover Big Fun in Smallin Cave
- Smallin Cave, located in nearby Ozark, is the first documented cave in the Ozarks; its entrance is one of the largest of any cave in the state, and measures 55 feet tall and 100 feet wide.
- There is historical evidence the cave was used by the Union army to store ammunition and artillery during the Civil War.
- The half mile, guided walking tour of Smallin Cave takes approximately one hour. Featuring ramps and inclines, the tour is available to those with wheelchairs and mobility scooters, as well as children in strollers.
- Your tour guide will talk about the history, folklore, and special geological make-up of the cave.
- You may encounter the cave's inhabitants, including the rare bristly cave crayfish, the endangered blind cave salamander, and various species of Dracula's alter ego -- the bat!
- Smallin Cave also offers Off-Trail Wild Tours; the one mile tour takes approximately two hours, and you'll wade through 54 degree water that's at least knee-deep. You'll also wear a helmet with a headlamp to light your way.
- The Wild Tours include traversing rimstone dams, going through beautiful areas full of intricate formations, and visiting the famous "mushroom" formation.
Branson Caving Goes Mystic & Cosmic in Nearby Arkansas!
- Located in Berryville, between Branson and the popular and quirky tourism destination of Eureka Springs, Cosmic Cavern is the warmest cave found in the Ozarks; 64 degrees year-round, with 96% humidity.
- Special features of the cave include the 9-foot 'soda straw,' the longest known in the area.
- Originally discovered in 1845, the cave opened for viewing in 1927. But areas of the cave are still being discovered; as recently as 1993, a second bottomless lake was discovered -- Silent Splendor.
- Silent Splendor is untouched and so pristine that many of the gorgeous formations around it are transparent.
- The first lake -- South Lake -- has had trout in it for about 50 years; most have lost their color and some are blind.
- Touring the cavern takes about an hour and fifteen minutes; along the way you'll encounter stunningly beautiful stalactites, flowstones, soda straws, helictites, draperies, and more.
- Wild Cave Tours are also available and include visiting parts of the cavern rarely seen.
- Located near Marble Falls and not far from Branson, Mystic Caverns, was likely discovered prior to 1850, but the earliest evidence of visitation dates back to 1919; Adam Kolbe carved his name and the date into a formation.
- Mystic has a twin cave, called Crystal Dome; both caves maintain a year-round temperature of 58 degrees. The entrances to the two caves are only 400 feet apart, yet Crystal was discovered nearly 100 years after Mystic.
- Crystal Dome contains a spectacular eight-story dome, delicate soda straws, pools with cave pearls, sawtooth drapers, and pure white flowstone.
- Mystic is splendidly decorated with regal column, spherical stalactites, electrified helictites, and a 28 foot pipe organ.
You can also see several caves while out hiking in the Branson area. Within the city limits, you'll find a city-operated and maintained trail system, including the Lake Forest Wilderness Area, where 4.4 miles of moderate to rigorous trail hiking will take you to a cave along the way. The development of Branson Creek, less than 10 minutes south of the city, includes public access trails; you'll come across two caves in this area.
Whether you take a guided tour of a beautiful cave attraction, or come upon the caves found along Branson area hiking trails, you'll satisfy your cave curiosity and get an even better understanding of why Missouri is known as the Cave State.
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