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The Best Caves to Explore in Missouri

Missouri is known as the "Cave State" due to its abundance of captivating underground caverns. Exploring these natural wonders offers a unique and awe-inspiring experience. In this guide, we will delve into the best caves to visit in Missouri, each with its own distinct features and beauty. We will also address some frequently asked questions to help you plan your cave exploration adventure.

1. Meramec Caverns

Located near Stanton, Meramec Caverns is one of the most popular caves in Missouri. With over 6 miles of explored passages, it showcases stunning formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstones. The caverns offer guided tours where you can learn about their rich history and geological significance.

2. Fantastic Caverns

As its name suggests, Fantastic Caverns in Springfield lives up to its reputation. What sets this cave apart is that visitors can explore its wonders aboard a jeep-drawn tram. This unique experience allows you to comfortably traverse the underground chambers and admire the remarkable formations, including the impressive "Angel Shower" draperies.

3. Onondaga Cave

Nestled within Onondaga Cave State Park near Leasburg, Onondaga Cave offers an enchanting underground journey. Guided tours lead you through a series of breathtaking chambers filled with intricate stalactites, stalagmites, and helictites. The "Lily Pad Room" and the "Cathedral" are among the highlights of this captivating cave.

4. Cathedral Cave

Located in Mark Twain National Forest, Cathedral Cave is a hidden gem worth exploring. This cave is known for its cathedral-like room adorned with magnificent formations, including a towering column that reaches the ceiling. The guided tours provide fascinating insights into the cave's geology and history.

5. Jacob's Cave

Situated near Versailles, Jacob's Cave is famous for its abundance of calcite deposits, creating a sparkling and magical underground world. The hour-long guided tours take you through a labyrinth of chambers, showcasing stunning formations, underground streams, and even an underground waterfall.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Q1: Are the caves in Missouri safe to explore?

A1: Yes, the caves in Missouri that are open to the public are generally safe to explore. However, it's essential to follow the guidelines and instructions provided by the cave management to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Q2: What should I wear when visiting caves in Missouri?

A2: It is recommended to wear comfortable clothing and sturdy, closed-toe shoes with good traction. The caves maintain a relatively constant temperature, so it's advisable to bring a light jacket or sweater.

Q3: Can I take photographs inside the caves?

A3: Photography policies vary among different caves. Some caves allow photography without flash, while others may have restrictions. It's best to check the specific guidelines of each cave before your visit.

Q4: Are there age restrictions for cave tours?

A4: Most caves in Missouri welcome visitors of all ages. However, some caves may have restrictions for young children or infants due to safety concerns. It's recommended to check with the cave management regarding age restrictions before planning your visit.

Q5: Can I bring food or drinks inside the caves?

A5: In order to preserve the natural environment of the caves, outside food and drinks are typically not allowed inside. It's important to respect the rules and regulations to help maintain the caves' integrity.


Missouri's caves offer a remarkable underground world waiting to be explored. From the awe-inspiring formations of Meramec Caverns to the unique tram tour experience of Fantastic Caverns, each cave offers its own allure and beauty. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or an avid adventurer, visiting these caves in Missouri is sure to leave you with unforgettable memories of the state's underground wonders.

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