The “Living” Cave
Blanchard Springs Caverns can hardly be described in words! You must visit the caves truly understand and appreciate their beauty. Entering the world of the underground is always a thrilling experience.We hope this site help to showcase some of the wonderful and majestic sights you’ll see. There are three different tours offered at the caverns; the Dripstone Trail, the Discovery Trail, the Discovery in the Dark Headlamp Tour and the caverns newest trail, the Wild Cave Tour. Led by knowledgeable Forest Service Guides, the tours wind through water-carved passages, including an underground river and the world’s largest flowstone. Each trail is a little different in intensity and visitors should be aware of each trail they decide to take.
During the summer the cave tours are a nice way to beat the heat because the cave stays a comfortable 58 degrees Fahrenheit year round. The cave is often called the “living cave” because its constantly changing and growing. The rock formations during each tour are ever changing and each time you visit it will be a whole new experience. If you’re looking for a little more, Blanchard Springs has wonderful camping, fishing and swimming areas. There are also several bike and hiking trails. Don’t worry about losing your way because the visitor center at the park will have plenty of information, pamphlets, and maps to help you figure everything out.
The Dripstone Trail tours are available year-round. The time you should allow for this tour is 1 hour. On this tour you will experience a constant 58 degrees F (so bring a sweater or light jacket) and know that the humidity is close to 100 percent. This trail is accessible to strollers and wheelchairs with strong assistance. This tour covers 4/10 of a mile in an hour. It is an easy walk with two seating areas along the trail for you to rest should you need to. There are only 50 stair steps to be negotiated on the entire tour but for those that can not manage them there are alternate trails that can be used, bypassing some formations. In this section of the cave bats are rare so don’t worry about running into them.
There are tiny cave creatures such as salamanders and crickets for you to see. You will be able to see nearly every type of calcite formation found in limestone caves. This includes delicate, hollow soda straws to massive flowstones and stalagmites. You will be touring the two major rooms in the upper level of the cavern system. The cathedral Room is long enough to hold three football fields and still have space left over. There are many snow-white formations of pure calcite (or calcium carbonate) in the Coral Room.You are walking through an area that was laid down in an ancient sea more than 350 million years ago. These beautiful formations have taken years to be made, no one knows for sure how long it has taken but may be thousands, hundreds of thousands or millions of years for the dripping water to deposit the calcite and other minerals into these fabulous formations. A vast amount of dripstone is found in this portion of the Caverns for two reasons. First, this section is higher than the other, allowing air-chemistry changes which cause the dripstone to form, and second, this portion is older than lower areas, giving the features more time to develop.
The Discovery Trail is another of the tours that is available at Blanchard Springs Caverns. This tour will last 1 1/2 hours. This one is a bit more complex than the Dripstone Trail. It is in the lower portion of the Caverns. There are nearly 700 stair steps on this tour so if you have walking or health problems this one isn’t for you.
On this tour you’ll take the routes of the early explorers and pass through campsites of their early expeditions. You’ll look up through the natural entrance where those early explorers dangled from ropes on homemade harness. You will see the underground stream which eventually gushes from the Blanchard Springs. This section of the Caverns is not filled with the formations of the Dripstone Trail but it is the first place where you will see the stream that runs through the caverns assisting in it’s creation. Maybe in time there will be the formations but for now, just enjoy the experience.
The final offering is the Wild Cave Tour where visitors go to the undeveloped sections of the middle level. This is a 3 to 4 hour tour. In order to participate with this tour you will need to be in good physical shape, wear sturdy boots, and be ready to get dirty! You will climb very steep slopes, crawl on hands and knees, pass under low ceilings, and travel through red clay. If this isn’t something you are prepared for, pass on this tour. Otherwise, join in and have a blast! The tour ends at the Titans, a group of tall spectacular columns. Hard hats, kneepads, gloves, lights, and belts are provided, along with a souvenir t-shirt. The Wild Cave Tour is limited to a minimum of 3 but no more than 12 people per tour. Participants must be at least 10 years old. A responsible adult must accompany children 10 to 12 years old.
Blanchard is not only about what is under the ground but is also surrounded with amazing things to see in the Ozark National Forest in which it resides. A gorgeous year round spring gushing from the base of the mountain called Blanchard Springs is where the caverns get their name. The spring is the headwaters for beautiful Mill Creek which with the help of underground springs create Mirror Lake which surges over a man made dam resulting in a spectacular waterfall. It then continues on until it reaches Sylamore Creek which runs through Blanchard Springs Campground.
You are not likely find more beauty and breathtaking sights in such close proximity to each other making this a do not miss Ozark experience. We are certain you will not regret it!