Exploring the underground beauty of Missouri

From staff reports

There are nearly 7,000 registered and mapped caves in Missouri, lending credence to the nickname of the “cave state.”

The surrounding area of Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is home to 300 “wild” caves and three spectacular “show” caves, offering intrepid explorers and first-time cavers an entertaining way to learn about geology, hydrology and anthropology while discovering the underground beauty found at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The lake’s “show” caves are wild caves that have been “tamed” through tremendous work and expense. They feature paved walkways, bridges, hand rails and lights that have been installed for the convenience of viewing nature’s subterranean sights safely and with little effort.

No special clothing or equipment is necessary to tour these caves. Though, with constant temperatures between 50-60 degrees, depending upon the cave, visitors are encouraged to dress appropriately.

Bridal Cave, located near Camdenton, has a history steeped in Native American legend and lore, including a storied wedding within its walls which gives the cave its name. 

Bridal Cave was formed some 42-46 million years ago and features massive columns, stalagmites, large draperies, a lake whose origins are a mystery and the most onyx formations of any known cave or cavern.

And, of course, there’s the stalactite adorned Bridal Chapel, where over 3,300 couples from around the world have exchanged their vows. Glamour magazine recently named Bridal Cave as one of the top-10 “craziest, most-awesome places to get married.”

Guided tours are available year-around. For more information on the history of Bridal Cave, wedding arrangements, tour schedules and admission prices, visit www.BridalCave.com.

In Jacob’s Cave, near Versailles, visitors can see geological evidence of six ice ages and three earthquakes among other natural wonders.

Jacob’s Cave was the first commercialized cave in the area and opened for tourists in 1932.

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Along the mile-long tour through Jacob’s Cave, tourists will see many different formations including massive columns and stalactites, millions of “soda straws,” delicate helictites and more.

This cave is the only walk-through cave in Missouri that is completely accessible to people with disabilities. Tours are offered year-around. To learn more about Jacob’s Cave, including additional background information and tour prices, visit http://www.jacobscave.com.

Hand-held lantern tours are offered at Ozark Caverns, located in Lake of the Ozarks State Park near Linn Creek. Ozark Caverns, which is owned and operated by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources, is the most rustic show cave in the Lake area.

Its claim to fame is a large, impressive “Angel Shower,” one of only 14 in the world and the only one in the U.S. available for public viewing.

Jacob’s Cave

An angel shower is an unusual cave phenomenon made up of a “bathtub” formation beneath a never-ending shower of water that seems to come out of a solid rock ceiling.

Along the half-mile round trip through this cave, explorers/visitors will see evidence of early spelunkers, claw marks in the sediment fills left by animals that sought shelter in the cave thousands of years ago, and other natural cave formations.

Tours of Ozark Caverns are offered seasonally, from mid-May through mid-September. Complete details for Ozark Caverns, its tour schedule and admissions prices, can be found by going to https://TinyURL.com/OzarkCaverns.

The lake’s unique show caves are all within 30 miles of one another, making it easy to experience them all over a weekend stay.

For all the lodging options available at the Lake, including full-service resorts and family-owned resorts, condominiums and vacation homes, bed and breakfasts, hotels and motels, and campgrounds and RV parks click on the “Places to Stay” tab at https://www.FunLake.com.

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