Ever since visiting my first cave system in the Summer of 2009, I’ve had an urge to explore as many as I can, whenever I can. (You can read my first caving story “Mammoth Cave: Hiking the Grand Avenue Cave Tour” here.) So naturally, when traveling through Arkansas on my way back to Florida last July, I couldn’t help but stop to visit Blanchard Springs Caverns.
It’s located inside the Ozark National Forest near Mountain View, AR. It happens to be the only developed cave system in the country operated by the U.S. Forest Service. Blanchard Springs is described as a “living cave” because of its ever-changing formations and remains open year-round for guided tours.
I opted to embark on the Discovery Trail so that I could “discover” all this cave had to offer. At just $10 for almost 2 hours inside the cave, I happily purchased my ticket. They warned us it would be 58 degrees inside the cave and there would be quite a few stairs to climb. We took an elevator ride down to the main cave entrance, and the excitement began.
We walked along lighted pathways, up and down stairs, and in between cave passageways. From the stalactites and stalagmites, to the columns and flowstones, the formations in this cave were beautiful and abundant. I had never seen such a magnificently decorated cave before.
Inside one of the big rooms.
One of the coolest parts of the trail for me was the cave stream. I had never seen an actual large body of flowing water inside a cave prior to this one. The sound of the rushing water was so loud that everyone on the tour could hear the water before actually seeing it.
The stream flowing right next to the trail.
A pool of water created by the stream.
Then shortly after leaving the stream area one of the tour guides pointed out a little bat hanging right above us on the cave ceiling. It was so tiny and cute.
This little bat made my day.
Finally, they took us into what was called the Ghost Room at the end of the tour. As if my mind wasn’t already filled with images of all the awesome things I had already seen that day, they had one more surprise in store for us. This:
It was the most sparkly thing my eyes had ever seen sitting in an environment created in complete darkness. It’s just a big mountain of shimmery, crystalline, white flowstone created by water, but it’s unbelievably spectacular to see in person.
There are so many fascinating things to see inside Blanchard Springs Caverns, I can’t even begin to describe them all. Go see it for yourself next time you’re traveling to or through Arkansas. You won’t be disappointed!
Your Turn: What caves have you discovered? Which one is your favorite?