Exploring Round Spring Cave & its critters by lantern light

By Todd Wilkinson

“Is there going to be snakes, daddy?” My daughter’s question came as we walked up the path to the Round Spring Visitor Center at Ozark National Scenic Riverways to secure our tickets for the two o’clock cave tour on a humid August Saturday afternoon.  

I tried to reassure her that there would be little chance of us seeing one, but she was having none of it. 

My son, on the other hand, was almost giddy with excitement about the tour, but he had his mind set on seeing if there were any good ghost stories about the cave.

My first time in Round Spring Cave was back in May, when I and four shipmates from the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary took the tour while in the park on Memorial Day weekend helping the National Park Service promote paddle craft safety. 

Ever since then, I knew that my kids would love the cave tour as well.

Cave tours are popular in these parts and — due to White-Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has caused “massive declines in hibernating bat populations in the eastern U.S. and Canada,” according to a National Park Service brochure — are limited to only 15 persons three times a day.  

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