MDC caving tours offer cool Missouri outings in summer heat

Visitors walk along an above-ground path leading them toward Stark Caverns near Eldon.

On a typical July day in Missouri, spending time enjoying the outdoors means swimming through the humidity. 

Rather than dripping in sweat, one group attending a class at Runge Conservation Nature Center found themselves underground dripping with cool cave water.

A group of participants traveled with Runge Naturalist Sam Stewart to Stark Caverns for Runge’s free Conservation Families: Caving event near Eldon.

Tour guide Lee Penserum led the group on an hour-long journey through the four levels of the cave as he told the story of its formation and history.

Visitors learn about unique cave features inside Stark Caverns near Eldon. Runge Nature Center offers free Conservation Families: Caving events as a great way to cool off and enjoy Missouri’s outdoors during the heat of summer.

Throughout the cave tour, participants learned about the formation of these ancient geological structures, including everything from the large cave system itself to the more intricate formations like soda straws, cave bacon, and cave popcorn.

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All the way from San Francisco, Peter Wercinski enjoyed the tour, but did not think an hour-long tour quite did the cave justice.

“I could have easily stayed in there for two or three hours,” Wercinski said.

Wercinski’s wife, Sue Ann, a Missouri native, and their two sons were eager to spend the morning caving, which is also known as spelunking. 

Living in California most of the year, Sue Ann Wercinski said they visit their mid-Missouri property each summer and winter, getting involved in conservation activities like this as often as possible.

For others interested in spelunking, Runge Nature Center will be hosting a second Conservation Families: Caving event from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Friday, Aug. 9. 

The event is free and requires registration (ages 8+).

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