Blanchard Springs Caverns … Where Mother Nature Met Father Time


Cathedral Room, Blanchard Springs Cavern, Arkansas - Karina Noriega

Cathedral Room, Blanchard Springs Cavern, Arkansas – Karina Noriega

In the heart of the Ozarks in northern Arkansas, the secrets of the underground reveal themselves. The massive cavern system at Blanchard Springs is a living cave, constantly changing, carving and shaping itself. The delicate and enormous formations, some taking thousands or even millions of years, are created by the minerals deposited by the tiny raindrops and ancient rivers within the cave.
When the US Forestry Service acquired land they spent decades carefully developing and lighting the paths to exhibit and protect the caverns. Glorious ‘rooms’ hundreds of feet tall expose massive formations. Nearly every kind of calcite formation can be found within the 3 level limestone caves. Glistening stalactites, stalagmites and columns (the results of the former two fusing together) of all sizes impress and amaze. Newly created stalactites, still hollow and extremely delicate, drip rhythmically in the dark. Towering sheets of flow-stone glitter like ice and have the appearance of a massive wave stopped in time. Crystal-clear streams still race across the bottoms of the cave continually developing and eroding the works of art.

(Click to enlarge, scroll and learn about the different photographs)

The upper level was the last piece to be discovered, by a 16 year old boy scout no less. The most elaborately decorated of all the caverns, the Cathedral room will immediately take your breath away and make you forget that you are 216ft under the surface of the earth.I must confess that as the elevator descended, stiffness griped my throat. My breathing became labored

Because the cavern is a living thing that needs to be protected from the harm humans can do upon it, informative forest service interpreters guide each of the three designated tours throughout Blanchard springs. These ladies and gentlemen are genuine sources of information and love to answer all of your questions. Don’t forget to ask them to point out their favourite illusions within the rocks.

Dripstone Trail $10.50 One Hour

A one mile long path through the upper cave level will take you to a waiting bus which ferries you back to the center. It is the most accessible of the tours and travels through two huge rooms filled with an incredible variety and number of crystalline formations, sparkling flowstone, towering columns and delicate soda straws. It is the most dazzling in design in my opinion and bound to leave you speechless.

(Click to enlarge, scroll and learn about the different photographs)

Discovery Trail
$10.50 One hour 40 minutes

This 1.2 mile long trail follows the path of the first explorers (in reverse) through water-carved passageways, under the natural entrance, along the cave stream and through enormous, beautifully decorated rooms. This tour creates a lasting impression what the intrepid adventurers who first crawled and climbed through here went through to achieve this discovery. This tour is remarkably different from the Dripstone Trail taking you even deeper into the less decorative but historical side of Blanchard Springs.

(Click to enlarge, scroll and learn about the different photographs)

Wild Cave Tour $75 4-5 hours

The newest of the cavern tours takes visitors to the undeveloped sections of the middle level. Participants need to be in good physical shape and wear sturdy boots. Expect to climb steep slopes, crawl on your hand and knees and get dirty travelling through the red clay. Includes the Titans room, where behemoth 85ft columns appear.

Unlike the former two, this tour was highly unaffordable for shoestring travelers like myself, so I cannot personally vouch for it.

In addition to the tours offered, the forest service also has exhibits and movies introducing you to the delicate underground world.

Learn more:

Blanchard Springs Tavern is an exception to the current five-year closure for all caves within national Forests in the southern region of the US forest service. This measure has been taken to protect the caves most valuable inhabitants, the bats. The cave has been confirmed to have white nose syndrome and it is of utmost importance that it does not spread to other caves in the area. (White nose syndrome does not affect humans.)

What is White Nose Syndrome?

White-nose syndrome (WNS) is a disease affecting hibernating bats. Named for the white fungus that appears on the muzzle and other parts of hibernating bats, WNS is associated with extensive mortality of bats in eastern North America. First documented in New York in the winter of 2006-2007, WNS has spread rapidly across the eastern USA and Canada, and the fungus that causes WNS has been detected as far west as Arkansas .

For more information go to

(Click to enlarge, scroll and learn about the different photographs)


~ An Extraordinary Story by Karina Noriega ~

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One thought on “Blanchard Springs Caverns … Where Mother Nature Met Father Time

  1. U guys are so lucky to be able to see so much of the great USA, keep on moving on this wonderful adventure that you will never forget and that most people will never be able to do in their lifetime. You two are truly inspirational! Hugs and love Aunt Tammy


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