Caving: Enjoy the outdoors indoors

Monday, July 28, 2008
Discover the inner beauty of the area underground

Suppose you had planned a nice hike for today, a chance to stretch your legs and take in some beautiful scenery. But now the weatherman is calling for a drizzly day, and the kids are restless.

Here's your chance to enjoy the outdoors indoors. Go underground, and enjoy one of the cave tours in the area.

Limestone supports this region of the country, and water can dissolve that limestone, leaving subterranean cracks, fissures, and caverns.

Some of those caverns are barely big enough to squirm through, but the area around Eureka Springs has quite a few larger caves on private property, and several nice tour caves open to visitors.

Onyx Cave

Onyx Cave, located just a few minutes outside Eureka Springs, was discovered in 1891. Visitors to this living cave go on a 30-minute self-guided tour with a radio headphone. The tour is easy and accessible, with stalactites and stalagmites in subterranean beauty. Cameras are welcome, and unique souvenirs are available at the gift shop.

Onyx Cave is located on Carroll Road 207, three miles north of U.S. Hwy. 62.

(479) 253-9321

Cosmic Cavern

Cosmic Cavern, located just a few miles northeast of Berryville, is one of Arkansas' hidden treasures. The 75-minute tour includes two "bottomless" cave lakes. The first lake, South Lake, has had trout in it for nearly 50 years. Some trout have gone blind and most have lost their color.

A newly discovered area, "Silent Splendor," houses one of the longest soda straw formations in the Ozarks, measuring more than nine feet!

The tour is very camera-friendly, and guides will take a picture with your own camera, so your whole group will be in the photo.

Visitors will see a wonderful variety of formations, including stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones, sodastraws, helictites, cave bacon, draperies, and many other speleothems.

For the truly adventurous, Cosmic Cavern offers wild cave tours, too.

Cosmic Cavern is located on Arkansas Hwy. 21, about seven miles northeast of Berryville.

(870) 749-2298

War Eagle Cavern

War Eagle Cavern, one of nature's true wonders, opened to the public in 1978. This is one of the newest show caverns in the country. The real story started about 250 million years ago, give or take a million.

In the unspoiled forest of the Ozark Mountains, this secluded site was used by the Indians hundreds of years before the first settlers came to the area. Every effort has been made to leave the cavern in its natural state, from the spectacular natural entrance to the underground stream. Courteous, informative guides conduct each tour with a "personal touch." Visitors will find the tour inside the cavern both educational and enjoyable.

War Eagle Cavern is located one-half mile off Highway 12, midway between Eureka Springs and Rogers.

(479) 789-2909

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