This breathtaking natural wonder is one of Missouri’s best places to visit
Onondaga Cave State Park is a National Natural Landmark that offers tours of the cave, another cave, camping with electric/water hookups, basic tent camping, three trails, and two-day use access along the Meramec River.
“We offer tours daily from mid-April through mid-October and we also feature another cave at our park, Cathedral Cave,” said Maria Potter, natural resource manager of Onondaga Cave State Park in Leasburg, Mo.
“We have three trails at the main park complex as well as one trail at Vilander Bluff Natural area in Bourbon, and our park has two-day use areas along the Meramec River for swimming, boating and general river access,” said Potter.
Onondaga Cave State Park recently upgraded the Blue Heron Trail as a multi-use surface feature at their site.
“The trail is now ADA accessible with a concrete path that goes to the natural entrance of Onondaga Cave and along the oxbow lake,” said Potter.
The trail will eventually be a complete loop with multiple trail heads, a floating fishing dock and access to restrooms along the trail path.
The park also added combo pricing this year so guests could receive a discount for touring both caves on the same day.
“Our visitation continues to increase each year through the use of social media, TripAdvisor, media advertising and word of mouth,” said Potter. “Visitation and revenue were good for the entire season last year, mainly because we managed to avoid a flood for one year.”
“The association offers several photo tours of both Onondaga and Cathedral caves throughout the season, Cathedral Cave nighttime tours, historical lantern tours, hot August night cool cave music in the big room of Onondaga Cave the first Saturday in August, and a limited number of wild off-trail caving opportunities,” said Potter.
To get more information on all the events the Park has going on, check out the website www.onondagafriends.org.
Onondaga Cave State Park has also upgraded the lighting system in Onondaga Cave with an energy efficient LED system.
“Onondaga Cave was recognized by the Top 10 Collection as one of the top 10 caves in the world via their website. We were number five and the only cave recognized in the United States,” said Potter.
They were also recognized as a top five state park to visit by RV Travel and as a top 10 park to visit in Missouri by the website onlyinyourstate.com.
“We also have a five-star rating on TripAdvisor – 2018 Award of Excellence,” said Potter.
“Onondaga Cave Stage Park also received an Outstanding Facility in Solid Waste Management Award from the Ozark Rivers Solid Waste Management District. The award encompasses recognition for raising awareness and educating the public on a broad spectrum of environmental issues through special events and festivals,” said Potter.
Onondaga Cave State Park is located at 7556 Highway H in Leasburg, Mo., and can be reached at (573) 245-6576 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; or online at www.mostateparks.com/park/onondaga-cave-state-park.
“Our website is always up to date with the most current information about our park and guests can get all the information they need to plan a visit to the park,” said Potter.
“We would love for people who visit by telling others about us, whether that be by their camping experiences, cave tour, trail hikes, or whatever.”
Are you an avid and artistic photographer looking for a new and unique canvas? Then look no further than Onondaga Cave State Park.
The Cathedral Cave tour is from 9 a.m.-noon and the Onondaga Cave tour is from 1-4 p.m. There is a fee associated with the event; fee and registration information can be found at www.onondagafriends.org. Guests have the option to tour one or the other, or both caves on these adventures.
Participants should bring their own equipment and tripods on this photographic adventure as no equipment will be provided by the park.
Conditions in the cave include limited lighting, concrete walkways, metal handrails, cool temperature (57 degrees F) and high humidity (nearing 100%).
Participants are encouraged to dress in layers of warm clothing and wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes or boots.
Future tour dates are June 23, July 27, Aug. 18, Sept. 21, and Oct. 6.
With a little help
The Onondaga Friends Association originally commenced in the mid-1990s and was resurrected in 2005. The mission of the association is to enhance Onondaga Cave State Park by raising awareness, providing education and increasing appreciation for the unique, ecological environment associated with the park.
Volunteers from the association plan and coordinate after-hours events on-site and assist in a variety of ways with the interpretation of the facility.
The association members contribute through special events, provide cave tours, conduct wildflower hikes, conduct photo tours of both Onondaga and Cathedral caves, and even lend a hand with park projects when needed.
Onondaga Friends Association is a 501(c)(3) corporation. All donations made to the association are tax-deductible. The organization generates revenue that assists the park in purchasing supplies, small items that strengthen the naturalist program and fund grant opportunities for short-term projects.
In addition, they assist and fund education opportunities for youth during the Cave Conservation Day Camp held each year in July. The association also provides funding for educational resources for research, advertising and marketing, and supplies for park sponsored events.
For more information, visit their website at www.onondagafriends.org.
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