We had no idea about these caverns at all. We only found it by chance when we saw the big signage along Highway 70 , on our way to the Arch in St. Louis, Missouri.
You know that the hubby and I aren’t big on cities. So between the arch and the caves, we immediately decided to change route. And dropped down to Springfield , Missouri where Fantastic Caverns are located, through Highway 65. Crazy huh? Yes, we are! lol
But that’s what vacations are all about right? No definite schedule and just go by what you feel is right at that moment. Yep, I call that making memories together. 🙂
So two hours or so later, we found ourselves at Fantastic Caverns.
Okay, rewind a few minutes before our arrival.
Remember we were just going by our vehicle’s GPS. When we exited the highway, the GPS took us to this 2 lane road that seemed to go on forever. John said, this is a good way to find the axe murderer. hahaha… Mind you, it wasn’t funny that time. But of course, we got there safe and sound. What were we thinking!
I shared that so you are aware, incase you visit the place too. It’s a few minutes away from the main highway. But don’t worry, it’s safe. 🙂
When we finally arrived at their office, we immediately saw a lot of cars parked outside. That was good news to us because it meant more tourists. ha ha. I mean seriously, can you imagine going inside a cave with people you do not know? Come to think of it, we didn’t even inform the family that we changed our trip. As far as everyone was concerned, we are on our way to the arch in Missouri. lol
Upon entering at their lobby, whatever apprehensions I had, were gone. The place was very nice. They have a shop too where you can buy souvenirs. When I saw the cashier, I inquired how much is the entrance fee and was told that it’s $25 per head. So I paid it.
We were all led to their backyard where the trams were parked.
Then the tour guide introduced herself and off we went.
She was very passionate with her job. And it showed when she explained the details and history of the caverns to us. Sorry I forgot her name, but I would like to thank her for having been a wonderful guide. 🙂
These caverns are different from the others because these are the only “ride-through” natural caves in America. And one of the four caverns world wide that offer a ride through tour.
They are so huge the owners were able to make a road where trams can take tourists for a ride, instead of walk inside.
I learned that stalagmites and stalactites grow an inch every 100 years. So imagine , how old are the ones shown in the pictures?
That’s the reason why the new owners of the caverns do not allow people to touch anything inside. Per study, the oil from our hands combined with the moisture in the stalactites and stalagmites, kill their growth.
What that said, I hope that we will all remember to be careful when we go inside a cave. Do not touch them or they will die. 😦
Per history, these caverns where used as venue for parties in the past. Concerts by famous musicians and singers were done there as well. The stage they used is still there until now. Imagine the acoustic’s sound echoing on the cave that time. Must have been nice right?
But of course damages were done. We just don’t have an idea as to its extent. Sad.
One of the employees took a picture of us, below.
The caverns are well lighted. So it isn’t scary at all. But the lights are kept off. It’s only turned on when the tours arrive at a designated area. When the tours proceed to the next room, the areas left behind go back to its dark environment. Why? Because over exposure to lights affect their growth as well. And they get molds. Yes, that is how sensitive caves are. So again, do not touch. And keep it dark.
At the last room we visited, we found out from our guide that even an 8.8 earthquake magnitude cannot hurt the cave. That’s how strong its foundation is. Those sharp stalactites on the ceiling are as sturdy as steel.
One of the stops during the tour was on a bridge they built , connecting the caverns inside. The guide showed us another room below us, where you crawl for 1.5 hours to go in. They found bats, blind translucent fishes that glow in the dark while swimming, and some other small creatures. The fishes are blind because they lived all their lives in the dark. This room is off limits to tourists to preserve its very delicate environment.
Fantastic caverns used to be an old underground river system. But to date, the river has backed up to the cave’s lower elevation. Yes, that’s right. Lower elevation. We were told that Missouri is a cavern state. Meaning, there are houses , buildings, etc . that are presently standing on a sink hole or a cave. According to their study, they find 50 caves per month all over the state. Scary , yeah. But as our guide candidly said, that’s how stubborn they are. They continue to live on top of it. ha ha
To find out more details of Fantastic Caverns, please check their website – http://www.fantasticcaverns.com
So here we are , before and after the tour. 🙂
If you ever visit Missouri, include the Fantastic Caverns in Springfield on your travel list.
The 55 minute tour is worth it!
And to me, this experience is way better than taking a “selfie” with the Arch in St. Louis!
Lea C. Walker