Have you ever gone spelunking? Wait—before I get ahead of myself, do you what spelunking is? Spelunking, for those not already in the know, is “the exploration of caves, especially as a hobby.” Even if you aren’t an expert caver, and even if you don’t know about stalactites or stalagmites, you can enjoy a day of spelunking while you’re visiting southwest Missouri. Filled with amazing natural beauty, the best caves near Branson are a great place for your whole family to explore. Plus, because caves maintain a moderate-to-cool temperature, you can (comfortably) check them out all year long! Read on to learn more about the best caves near Branson.
The Best Caves Near Branson
Fantastic Caverns. Discovered in 1862 by a curious dog, Fantastic Caverns has been fascinating and entertaining explorers for over a century. Due to the cave’s fragility, guests are taken through the caverns in comfortable jeep-drawn trams. Beautiful, enormous, and filled with natural spectacles (cave pearls, massive columns, flowstones, etc.), Fantastic Caverns is the perfect place to bring your whole family while you’re visiting Branson. No walking is required (it is America’s only ride-through cave) and the cave stays around 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Tours depart every 20-30 minutes and each tour takes about an hour. For more information on the hours and ticket prices, please click here. It will take you about 1 hour to drive from Branson to the cave.
Smallin Civil War Cave. The first documented cave in the Ozarks, Smallin Civil War Cave was described (and lauded) at length by explorer Henry Rowe Schoolcraft in his 1818 journal. It was home to Osage Indians (possibly the Cherokee tribe as well) and there is evidence that the cave was utilized during the Civil War for war-related activities. Today, it is home to a number of rare, strange, and endangered species, such as blind salamanders and crayfish. You can view the cave in a 1-hour or 2-hour tour, depending on your intensity preference. To learn more about the tour types, ticket prices, and hours, click here. It will take you 35-45 minutes to drive from Branson to the cave.
Marvel Cave. If it weren’t for Marvel Cave, Silver Dollar City wouldn’t stand where it does today. In fact, it might not even exist! Marvel Cave became a tourist attraction in 1894 and by 1960, it was the focal point of Branson’s premier theme park. The cave has seen many visitors over the years, including Osage Indians (1500 AD) and Spanish explorers (1541). It is the deepest cave in Missouri, and you can explore it in a 60-minute basic tour (tours leave every 30 minutes) or a 90-minute lantern light tour (once a day). Your tour of Marvel Cave is included in your ticket to Silver Dollar City. Of all of our best caves near Branson, Marvel is the nearest to downtown. If you want to visit, plan to make an entire day out of exploring Silver Dollar City and its gorgeous cave. For more information, click here.
Talking Rocks Cavern. Originally known as Fairy Cave, Talking Rocks Cavern is a beautiful cavern system located in Stone County (about a 25 minute drive from Branson). It features beautiful natural features like curtain and bacon formations, but it is devoid of typical cave life because the entrance to the cave was sealed when it was first discovered. Tours depart frequently throughout the day and will take about 1-hour. For more information regarding hours and ticket prices, click here.
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If you’ve never visited a cave before, use your trip to southwest Missouri to take advantage of the best caves near Branson. Still, strange, and mesmerizing, caves are a wondrous natural phenomenon. Plus, all of the best caves near Branson are affordable and family-friendly. Have fun spelunking!