Best Caves in Missouri: Guide to the Amazing Underground

Many of us love exploring the amazing caves this country has to offer and the state of Missouri is blessed with some of the best. From the largest, deepest, and most unique caves around, we explore all of the caves in Missouri.

Caves are dark, cold, clammy, mildewy, and filled with flying creatures we are not wanting to snuggle up to.

So why do we love to explore these underground paradises?

Firstly, it is just the otherworldly feeling or the mystical magic that created these large underground pockets. 

Secondly, it is the history of how these caves were used in the past to live in or just plain hide.

Lastly, it is the study of these amazing places and how they were created, to begin with.

So, let us see what Missouri has to offer and find your new favorite cave to explore.

Best Caves in Missouri: Guide to the Amazing Underground

How many Caves in Missouri are there?

Missouri, known as the “Cave State” has around 6000 explored caves and many have become popular tourist attractions. Missouri State Parks showcases four of the best for public tours. The four are Onondaga Cave and Cathedral Cave at Onondaga Cave State Park, Fisher Cave at Meramec State Park, and Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Undoubtedly, you have many more to choose from here in Missouri.

Why are there so many Caves in Missouri?

The 2 most common rock forms in Missouri are Dolomite and limestone, and both are easily dissolved by acidic water moving beneath the ground. As the water migrates through the porous rock, much of the rock is dissolved, and gaps or holes in the rock are formed. As a result of this, we get plenty of places to visit and explore.

What is the Biggest Cave in Missouri?

Meramec Caverns is one of the world’s largest cave formations. It is located near St. Louis in the Ozark Mountains, and it has provided shelter to Native Americans for centuries before French colonial miners started exploiting it for its minerals. Meramec Caverns has been a tourist attraction since 1933. The cave is famous for the folklore of being used by Jesse James and his gang as a hideout. So, how do you think he got away?

Which Caves in Missouri are Most Famous?

Fantastic Caverns is arguably the most famous cave in Missouri due to its massive cave system and the only ride thru cave attraction in North America. The tour takes 55 minutes and goes along a wide, well-lit path – a former riverbed surrounded by huge formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, “soda straws,” cave “pearls,” flowstones, and massive columns. The caverns were used during Prohibition as a speakeasy and for music concerts in the 1950s and 1960s.

Meramec Caverns we talked about above is a very popular attraction in Missouri for the cave and also for the abundance of attractions in the surrounding areas. Besides the Cavern itself, guests enjoy rafting on the Meramec River, Zip Lining through the countryside, and relaxing at the local campgrounds. So, let’s get out on the Meramec and have a little fun together with family and friends.

What is the Deepest Cave in Missouri?

Marvel Cave at Silver Dollar City near Branson is the deepest cave you can explore in the state. Tours begin about 300 feet beneath the surface, starting in what is called the “Cathedral Room” and branching off from there. Of course, seeing this room in person puts everything in a better perspective.

How big is it?

On July 7, 1963, an underground altitude record was set by Don Piccard by flying a hot air balloon around the massive room. Later, in 1994 five hot air balloons were flown simultaneously in the Cathedral Room in celebration of the 100th anniversary of giving cave tours. Obviously, this would be a sight to see and behold.


Joseph Campbell

Our 5 Favorite Caves in Missouri

Having lived in Missouri for almost 60 years, I have been to most of these caves multiple times both as a child and as an adult. They still amaze me with how they were naturally created and then the many uses people found for them. Marvel in the Silver Dollar City theme park was one I could go to yearly and never get bored with it. Obviously, the rollercoasters right outside helped with my enthusiasm.

1. Bridal Cave

Bridal Cave is a cave located near Camdenton, Missouri, in Lake of the Ozarks. This Cave takes its name from the Osage Native American legend of Conwee, the son of an Osage chief who desired to marry the daughter of the chief of the opposing tribe. He is said to have kidnapped her for this reason. 

Rated as one of the most scenic caverns in America, Bridal Cave has more formations per square foot than any other known cave or cavern in the United States. Park facilities include a visitors center, cave tours, a gift shop, a rock shop, a boat dock(on Lake of the Ozarks), nature trails, gemstone mining, and an observation tower. Open Year Round. So, are you ready to get married?

2. Fantastic Caverns

Fantastic Caverns is a show cave located in Springfield, Missouri. This is the only cave in North America to offer a completely ride-through tour, which lasts 55 minutes and is held in a Jeep-drawn tram. The trams drive along the path left behind by an ancient underground river.

Discover the timeless beauty of Fantastic Caverns, one of the earth’s rarest treasures. There are only four of its’ kind in the entire world, and only one in North America. Here, you’ll discover one of the world’s most beautiful natural wonders; giant columns stretching from floor to ceiling, delicate soda straws glistening with minerals, and tiny cave pearls hidden in crystal-clear water. And best of all, you’ll see it close-up from the comfort of a rolling chair! Indeed, this has to be the best way to tour an amazing cave.

3. Meramec Caverns

Meramec Caverns is the collective name for a 4.6-mile (7.4 km) cavern system in the Ozarks, near Stanton, Missouri. The caverns were formed from the erosion of large limestone deposits over millions of years. Pre-Columbian Native American artifacts have been found in the caverns.

Currently, the cavern system is a tourist attraction, with more than fifty billboards along Interstate 44, and is considered one of the primary attractions along former U.S. Highway 66. Meramec Caverns is the most-visited cave in Missouri with some 150,000 visitors annually. Meramec Caverns is ranked #178 on’s USA Long Cave list.

4. Marvel Cave

Marvel Cave is a National Natural Landmark located just west of Branson, Missouri, on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County. The cave was known by the Osage Indians in the early 16th century after a tribe member fell through the cave’s main entrance, a sinkhole. So, how many sinkholes are there in Missouri?

How many sinkholes are there in Missouri?

According to the Missouri Geological Survey, the state has about 16,000 sinkholes — some reaching depths of 100 feet. Blame its topography. More than half of Missouri’s surface is made up of carbonate bedrock and limestone, which are prone to dissolution.

A highlight of the Silver Dollar City theme park, this constantly evolving wet limestone cave is under the Ozark Mountains. It dates back to the 1500s and provides a one-hour tour of fascinating rooms and passageways. The cave’s entryway is the largest in the U.S. So, could you imagine 5 hot air balloons inflated in one room of a cave?

5. Onondaga Cave

Onondaga Cave State Park is a Missouri state park located on the Meramec River. It is approximately 5 miles SE of the village of Leasburg. The park was established in 1982. Park activities include cave tours, camping, fishing, hiking, picnicking, and swimming.

The name for the cavern system was chosen in 1904 by Myrtle Land and was named for an Iroquois tribe. The translation of Onondaga is “People of the Mountain.

Descend into the depths of Onondaga Cave State Park and drop into a world of wonder. You will see towering stalagmites, dripping stalactites, and active flowstones that help make the cave a National Natural Landmark. The main reason why Missouri is often called “The Cave State.” Visitors can take guided tours into the underground wonderland. Open for tours seasonally. So, get out there and explore!

List of Missouri Caves

These are the most popular Missouri Caves, but as we learned earlier, we have many more to explore. So, check these out, but remember there are about 5970 more if you want to see them all.

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Did you Know?

Which State has the Most Caves?

With almost 10,000 caves on record, Tennessee boasts the most caves of any state in the United States. The majority of these caves can be found in eastern Tennessee, west of the Appalachian mountains.

Which State has the least amount of Caves?

Delaware known as the “Caveless State” is said to be the only state in the union that is without any caves. This may be debatable as a cavity of significance does exist less than 100 feet from the Pennsylvania border. This shelter was used by the Delaware Indians who roamed the Delaware Valley over 200 years ago. As you can see from the photo, it has a little to be desired.

What is the Largest Cave in the U.S.?

Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is known as the world’s longest cave in the world. Actually a cave system and not a singular cave, Mammoth Cave National Park is home to the more than 400 miles of passageways — the world’s largest known cave system


Close your eyes for a moment and just think about this. It’s sunrise, you roll out of your RV, morning air feeling brisk, fire from the night before taking its last breath as it’s trying to reignite. You find your favorite chair on the site, turn it to look out over the lake, and nestle in to relax. Birds chirping and fish jumping as the new day begins.

This is what it’s all about!………. Now imagine a hot cup of coffee in your hand. Life just got so much better!!

Visit us @ The GRIND Coffee Shop for all your Caffeine Needs

So, who is ready to go caving?

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