6 Caves to Explore in Arkansas
Arkansas' underground beauty is easy to overlook. But did you know that the state is full of caves and caverns that are safe for the whole family to explore?
Located across northern Arkansas, these six destination make for easy day trips. The formations are like nothing you find above ground, and kids will learn about a seemingly whole new world as they discover stalactites and stalagmites, cave curtains, and even structures with names like cave bacon and cave popcorn!
Check out these six caves and caverns and explore them with the whole family.
Onyx Cave is located six miles east of Eureka Springs. The cave offers easy access with ramps and stairs to access the gift shop and a non-strenuous trail that leads you through the cave. The self-guided tour (note that strollers are not allowed) takes about 30 minutes and the cave is approximately 57 degrees year round.
Onyx Cave closes for a portion of the winter each year, but usually re-opens around Valentine's Day weekend. Admission is $8 for adults, $3.75 for kids ages 3-12 and free for children under 3. Visit the website for more information.
Get a two for one at this location in Harrison. With entrances only 400 feet apart, the Mystic Cavern and Crystal Dome are both open for guided tours. Follow the path the first settlers to this area traveled on a tour through Mystic, learn about the "pipe organ" and hear the infamous story of the spider monkey. Crystal Dome, which was discovered 100 years after Mystic, is a spectacular eight-story dome in pristine form.
Tours are 35-45 minutes long and run consistently from March-December. Call for a schedule in January and February. Tour prices to tour both caverns are $14.99 for adults and $7.99 for kids ages 4-12. For one cavern adults are $12.99 and children are $6.99. Visit the website for more information and a $1 off coupon.
Blanchard Springs Caverns
Blanchard Springs Caverns is one of the most spectacular and carefully developed caves found anywhere in the world. It is located in the Ozark National Forest about 10 miles north of Mountain View.
The Dripstone Trail Tour is a one-hour, wheelchair-accesible, half-mile tour offered year round and is an easy walk for most. The Discovery Trail Tour is offered Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. It follows the path of the first explorers through large water-carved passages, under the natural entrance, along the cave stream, and through enormous, beautifully decorated rooms. This longer, more strenuous tour is 1.2 miles long, with nearly 700 stairsteps, making it better suited for older children.
Tickets for either tour are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6-15 and free for children under 6. For more information, including more tour options, visit the Blanchard Springs Caverns website.
Bull Shoals Caverns
Tours run from March 15 through Thanksgiving weekend at this cavern in Bull Shoals, about an hour east of Harrison. The caverns are home to camel crickets, bats, salamanders, underground rivers and many different varieties of cave formations. Tours are approximately 45 minutes and the cave stays right around 59 degrees all year.
There is also gemstone panning and a giftshop on site. Tours are $14 for adults, $7 for kids ages 6-11 and children 5 and under are free. For more information, visit the website.
War Eagle Cavern on Beaver Lake
At this cave in Rogers, have the option of a walking tour or a muddy and adventurous spelunker tour. The walking tour opens on March 4 while the spelunker tour runs from July-October.
Parts of the walking tour include the 7-foot high Crystal Hallway (glistening with sparkles of Arkansas Quartz and pyrite), a fossil dig area for kids and more. Tickets for the stroller-accesible, half-mile, guided tour are $15 for adults, $9 for kids ages 4-11 and free for kids under 3.
On the spelunker tour, experience huge colonies of bats and get wet and muddy as you squeeze through passageways and wade through water. The two-and-a-half hour tour is $75 including equipment and kids must be at least 12 and accompanied by an adult.
While you're there, check out the above ground attractions: a "lost in the woods maze," trading post/gift shop and gem panning. Visit the website for more information.
Old Spanish Treasure Cave
Located in the very northwest corner of Arkansas, the Old Spanish Treasure Cave opens on March 1. The cavern is filled with fascinating legends of hidden treasure buried by the Spanish Conquistadors. One-hour cave tours are $13.50 for adults, $6.50 for ages 4-11 and free for children under 4.
For an extra special excursion, bring a lawn chair and check out the underground movie theater during the season. Check on the Facebook page for updates about which movies will be playing and when.
The cave offers a special for school groups for only $6.50 per student, including gemstone panning. There is also a "camp in the cave" program for scout and youth groups 10-18 years of age that includes off-trail exploration and a night sleeping in the cavern. For more information on the Old Spanish Treasure Cave, visit the website.