The Show-Me State does not disappoint regarding the variety of outdoor experiences you can have in Missouri State Parks. There's not much you can't do here, from hiking, biking, hunting, fishing, swimming, camping, ziplining, boating, and more!
But there is one natural feature that Missourians are especially proud to claim—this humble Midwest state boasts upwards of 7,500 caves!
And, four of the most spectacular Missouri caves are open to the public through Missouri State Parks. Keep reading to learn more about these underground treasures that draw crowds from all over the country every year.
Cave Tours in Missouri State Parks
A quick online search for "Missouri Caves" populates endless opportunities for exploration. But for those looking for a safe and relaxed way to experience the beauty and depth of Missouri caves, the following guided tour options are perfect for you!
Onondaga Cave State Park
Located just 90 minutes southwest of St Louis, Onondaga Cave State Park is most famous as the home of Onondaga Cave and the slightly lesser-known but no less mesmerizing Cathedral Cave.
Official tours have led visitors down into the depths of Onondaga Cave since the late 1890s after a millworker first discovered it. More than 50 years of tumultuous land disputes were to follow before officially becoming a Missouri State Park and National Natural Landmark in 1982.
Early on, tour guides took people by boat into the cave. However, safety issues forced trails to be made and used instead.
By the early 1950s, Onondaga (an Iroquois word for "people of the mountain") Cave attracted celebrity visitors, while church services and weddings were even being held underground.
Today tour guides lead visitors into the cave by a well-lit path just over a mile long. The temperature inside the cave hovers around 57 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. And you can still see docks and boat replicas from days gone by.
Cathedral Cave became Missouri State Park land in 1981—some 62 years after it's believed to have been first explored. This stunning underground space gets its name from its most impressive feature—a cascading wall of flowstone shaped like a large bell.
A visit to Cathedral Cave offers what experienced cave-goers would call a "wild" cave experience. Unlike Onondaga Cave, there is no lighting along the path. Visitors carry lanterns to light their way.
Cathedral Cave is also home to an earthquake monitoring station managed by St. Louis University. Data acquired from this underground node is sent to the National Earthquake Center in Colorado to be recorded.
Fisher Cave at Meramec State Park
Meramec State Park is only 30 minutes northeast of Onondaga Cave State Park, offering more than 13 miles of scenic hiking trails, fishing, boating, swimming and camping.
Fisher Cave is a true hidden gem at this Missouri State Park, with all of these exciting outdoor activities to keep you busy. But you'll want to carve out time to see this magnificent natural wonder, too.
Guided flashlight tours will take you through vast cavernous rooms full of calcite deposits of all different sizes and along narrow passageways where you can view cave wildlife and more!
Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park
Lake of the Ozarks State Park is located in central Missouri and is a premier vacation spot for many people each year. Swimming, fishing, camping and boating are popular activities here.
But Ozark Caverns mustn't be overlooked! An hour-long tour guides you through one of the geologically unique underground environments common in the Ozark Mountains.
You'll only travel a half-mile round trip. However, you'll get to explore some pretty special cave features—like Angel Showers, an endless cascade of water flowing from the seemingly solid rock!
Mesmerizing Memories in Missouri State Parks
Missouri State Parks pack a big punch for being a land-locked state in the heart of the Midwest.
Whether it's deep cavernous adventures like those mentioned here, hiking scenic trails or relaxing by a peaceful waterhole, one thing is for sure—you're going to have some incredible outdoor experiences in the Show-Me State.
But not to worry! There's plenty of room to record all of your favorite moments in a Missouri State Parks Bucket Journal.
Capture those unforgettable memories and keep them safe for years to come. We guarantee that years from now, you'll be so glad you did!
Which of these Missouri State Parks will you visit for a cave adventure?