Lake of the Ozarks, MO – With over 7,400 registered caves around the state, including 20 “show caves,” Missouri has certainly earned its nickname as “the cave state.” Home to over 300 wild caves and four of the state’s 20 show caves, Central Missouri’s Lake of the Ozarks is considered to be a must-visit for any travelers interested in viewing the state’s fascinating underground beauty and its intriguing geological history.
The Lake’s “show” caves are wild caves that feature paved walkways, bridges, handrails and lights that have been installed for the convenience of viewing nature’s subterranean sights safely and with little effort, making them perfect for casual adventurers of any skill of fitness levels. No special clothing or equipment is needed to tour the caves, though warm clothing is recommended as the temperatures inside the caves are 50-60 degrees no matter the season. Three of the Lake’s four show caves are open for tours year-round.
Bridal Cave, located near Camdenton, has a history steeped in Native American lore, including the legendary wedding which is the inspiration for the cave’s name. The highlight of this show cave is the stalactite adorned Bridal Chapel, where over 3,775 couples from around the world have exchanged or renewed their vows, inspiring Glamour magazine to name Bridal Cave as one of the top-10 “craziest, most-awesome places to get married.” In addition to the chapel, Bridal Cave features massive columns, stalagmites, large draperies, a lake that seemingly formed out of nowhere and the most onyx formations of any known cave or cavern. Guided tours are available year-round. And, special hand-held lantern tours are available on Saturday evenings during the summer season. For more information on the history of Bridal Cave, wedding arrangements, tour schedules and admission prices, visit www.BridalCave.com.Jacob’s Cave, near Versailles, allows visitors to marvel at geological evidence of six ice ages and three earthquakes, prehistoric bones — including those of a mastodon and a peccary — as well as one of the largest geodes in the word. The first commercialized cave in the area, Jacob’s Cave opened for tourists in 1932. Being the largest cave in the Lake area, tourists will see many different formations including massive columns and stalactites, millions of “soda straws,” delicate helictites and others along the mile-long tour. Jacob’s Cave is the only walk-through cave in Missouri that is completely accessible to persons with disabilities. Tours are offered year-round. To learn more about Jacob’s Cave, including additional background information and tour prices, visit www.JacobsCave.com.
The most rustic cave in the area is 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, does not feature any “show” lighting, instead tours are conducted by hand-held lanterns. This cave’s claim to fame is a large, impressive “Angel Shower,” one of only fourteen in the world and the only one in the U.S. available for public viewing. 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. 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 TinyURL.com/OzarkCaverns.Stark Caverns, near Eldon, has a storied history of being used as a shelter for Native Americans, storage by early settlers, a hideout during the American Civil War and as a speakeasy during Prohibition. Daily tours take guests on a journey through the ages with views of impressive formations, waterways and ancient bear beds. Another available tour option includes a Black Light Tour where visitors learn about the science of fluorescent minerals and experience a wide spectrum of colors. In addition to their tours, Stark Caverns also has a number of special events throughout the year, including wine and beer tours, movies and music in the cave as well as vendor shows. Unique to Stark Caverns is its Cave Escape Adventure, where groups work together to discover clues and solve puzzles to beat the clock in an “escape room” experience. Stark Caverns is 85% wheelchair accessible and open daily year-round. Learn more about Stark Caverns, its tour options, special events and pricing at www.StarkCaverns.com.
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 www.FunLake.com.
To discover more ways to have fun at the Lake of the Ozarks and to get information on additional year-round attractions and events, as well as available dining options, visit the Lake of the Ozarks Convention and Visitor Bureau‘s award-winning website, www.FunLake.com, or call 1-800-FUN-LAKE (386-5253).
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