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Rural Missouri Magazine

Ozark Caverns
Lake of the Ozarks State Park

by Bob McEowen

When the dog days of August hit, Missourians need a place to beat the heat. What better destination than one of the state’s many caves?

While not nearly as well known as Missouri’s commercial caves, Ozark Caverns at Lake of the Ozarks State Park offers its own allure. Unlike show caves, there are no colored electric lights in Ozark Caverns. Hand-held lanterns provide the only illumination, ensuring a more natural experience and a new discovery with each step along the cave’s 1/4-mile-long wheelchair-accessible trail.

Once a commercial cave, Ozark Caverns became part of the Missouri state park system in 1979. It remains one of the state’s better-kept secrets. Although nearly a million people visit Lake of the Ozarks State Park each year, fewer than 10,000 tour the cave, which is located on the south side of Missouri’s largest state park.

The cave’s most notable feature is Angel Showers, a unique “showerhead and bathtub” formation. A never-ending spray of water falls from the cave roof, regardless of conditions on the park’s surface 40 feet above. The natural tub that Park Naturalist Cindy Hall stands beside on our cover collects the water below. Only 14 similar formations are known to exist around the world.

Guided tours are offered three times daily from June 1 through Aug. 15. Weekend tours (two per day) continue through Oct. 14 and will resume in April 2010. Admission ranges from $4 to $6. Children 5 and under tour free.

To reach Ozark Caverns, take Highway 54 to Linn Creek and head east on Highway A. Turn south on McCubbins Drive and follow the signs to the cave visitor’s center. Log on to www.mostateparks.com/lakeozark/cave.htm or call 573-346-2500 for tour times or other information.

 

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