The state of Missouri is called a few things including the Show Me State and the Mother of the West. The state is dubbed as such as it houses countless amazing views to see and experiences to take part in. Tourists from within the United States and beyond its borders love traveling to the Show Me State. It is able to accrue millions upon millions of tourists annually and with the state showcasing strong support for its tourism, it is easy to see why people continue to fall in love with what it offers. Beyond these two monikers, Missouri is also called as the Cave State and it is impossible to call it that without thinking about the glorious wonders of the Meramec Caverns.
- 1 Exploring the History of Meramec Caverns
- 2 What are the operating hours of the Meramec Caverns?
- 3 What are the ticket prices in the Meramec Caverns?
- 4 Meramec Caverns Activities for Everyone
Exploring the History of Meramec Caverns
The Meramec Caverns is the collective name for a cavern system in the Ozarks near Stanton, Missouri. The system is huge and expansive, reaching up to a whopping 4.6-mile long. The Meramec Caverns is considered as one of Missouri’s top tourist attractions and the state isn’t too shy on advertising its natural beauty. Aside from getting hundreds of thousands of visitors annually, the cave also gets recognition from top travel companies.
The Meramec Caverns are discovered to have been around for the past 400 million years. It was formed through deposits of limestone that to this day, surround the entire area. When it comes to natural wonders, it couldn’t get any better than the Meramec Caverns as these offer quite the walk on prehistoric attractions.
In the past centuries, the cave system was used as a shelter by Native Americans. It served as a home away from the harsh weather and wildlife the roamed the land. The cave system was only explored by the Europeans in 1722 when a French miner came across the cave’s entrance that it west of the Mississippi River.
A century later, the Meramec Caverns were made as a center for economy as it was used as the primary source of saltpeter which was used to create gunpowder. The caves played a vital role during the Civil War era as the Union Army used it as their source of the valuable saltpeter. Their plant was only destroyed when it was discovered by Confederate guerrillas which could have included the historical outlaw Jesse James. Aside from destroying the Union Army’s plant, Jesse along with his partner Frank used the caves as a hideout during the 1870s.
In 1933, an extended cave system was discovered and this became a part of the currently accessible 4.6 mile cave system in Missouri. It was introduced as a public tourist attraction in 1935 by Lester B. Dill. Along with its introduction as an attraction, Dill also seemingly created the bumper sticker which served as a way to promote the caverns.
In the following years, the state of Missouri began to notice the Meramec Caverns’ potential to attract tourists. It has since helped develop some of the man-made attractions in the cave system. To this date, the state continues to support the cave system through projects and promotions.
What are the operating hours of the Meramec Caverns?
Although the cave system has been developed to accommodate tourists, it is still not safe to venture into it especially after dark. As such, the managing body’s have set up operating hours during which tourists can visit. There are guided tours in the cave which lasts for 1 hour and 30 minutes long.
The cave’s tours begin at 9AM all-year round except during Labor Day in July, during which is opens earlier at 8:30AM. The closing time varies per month and are as follows: January to February 4PM, March 5PM, April 6PM, May to June 7PM, September 6PM, October 5PM, November to December 4PM.
The number of tourists begin to balloon at around the afternoon so it would be best to book an early tour so you can avoid the heavy crowd.
What are the ticket prices in the Meramec Caverns?
Admission to the Meramec Caverns aren’t free. The funds raised through the tours are used to help develop the cave’s amenities and features. Visitors aged 11 and up will need to pay an entrance fee of $22. Children from 5 to 11 will get tickets at a discounted price of $12. Meanwhile, children under the age of 4 are free.
The Meramec Caverns are best explored in a group as the management provides discounts for groups that include 15 or more people who book in advance. One complimentary pass is given for every 20 tickets purchased. For huge groups, adults need only to pay $17. The cave tours also accommodate school trips and the rates are as follows: $12.00 – High School students (9th-12th Grade), $9.50 – Middle School students (7th-8th Grade) and $9.00 – Children (Pre-K through 6th Grade)
It would be best to bring extra money for the tour as there are many activities to partake in. Aside from these, there are also amazing dishes to try out and some souvenirs to keep at the end of the trip. Pocket money is always recommended.
Now that we’ve got the rundown on the Meramec Caverns’ important aspects, let us now look at some of the top activities that you can expect to try out in Missouri’s claim to fame.
Meramec Caverns Activities for Everyone
The Meramec Caverns is one of the tops spots for families seeking for a place to be to bond, discover, and just have fun. One of the famous Meramec Caverns activities that are frequented by many tourists are the cave tours that it can offer.
In their cave tour offers, you will be guided by the Meramec Caverns’ very own trained rangers who will also fill you with interesting facts, anecdotes, and other information about the area and its rich history. You can also get to see an amazing view of mineral formations that have colors that are so beautiful and rare. In fact, one of the most popular cave structures (and is considered as one of rarest cave formations in the world) that you can get to see is the ancient Wine Table, a rare onyx aragonite formation, that was completely formed underwater by nature. Such underground jewels, which took thousands of years to grow, are definitely a sight to behold. But there’s more to Meramec Caverns than just its cave tours.
While its unique mineral formations draw flocks of tourists, there is apparently more Meramec Caverns activities that you can enjoy aside from that. In case you want to know more, here are some other Meramec Caverns activities that we recommend for you to try out that will make your trip all the more memorable. And who knows, these Meramec Caverns activities might become another reason for you to come back again and again?
1See the Theatre Room Light Show
Apparently, this isn’t your ordinary light show that’s filled with all fun and entertaining performances. Rather, it’s a light show segment that’s dedicated to the men and women who have, is, and will devote their lives to serve the country such as the firefighters, the armed forces, and the police forces to remember the sacrifices and the hard work that they have made for the betterment of the country.
Here, you can get to see an all-new computerized light show accompanied by the singing of God Bless America. On top of that, you can get to see vibrant lights showing beautiful images showing the beauty of America. While it’s not as loud and entertaining as you’d expect a light show to be, it’s still one of the Meramec Caverns activities that you shouldn’t miss as it is a good starter too. Plus, this will make you and your kids appreciate firefighters, police forces, and the likes’ efforts for the betterment of the country, as well as the beauty of America.
2Explore the Ballroom
Meramec Caverns’ interiors aren’t just all rock formations like the ones we always see in many caves. This is because the place has a ballroom area that was once called as the Saltpeter Cave which his designed with asbestos floor tiles and breath-taking unique interiors. The ballroom is large enough to accommodate big crowds as it was meant to be used for square dances and other community events in the 1890s. It is so big that it is considered as the biggest area in the Meramec Caverns as it can accommodate 3,000 seated guests.
It’s a perfect place for every special occasion, especially weddings and receptions. But apparently, the Meramec Caverns don’t offer wedding packages inside the cave anymore. Still, visiting this area is one of the Meramec Caverns activities that you shouldn’t miss.
3Visit the Cave’s Hollywood Spots
Also another top Meramec Caverns activities to do is to visit its Hollywood room. Yes, you read it right, the cavern has a piece of Hollywood. The Meramec Caverns has a room inside where several Hollywood films filmed some of its scenes. One of the notable films that made use of this area is the 1973 movie Tom Sawyer. This is the site they used for the scene when Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn found the hidden gold.
In addition to that, the famous 1954 TV series Lassie also filmed some parts one of its episodes in this area. If you’re a fan of these shows, you’ll certainly love this area as you can get to take a trip down memory lane and reminisce some parts of your favorite shows. But even if it didn’t become a part of such popular series or movies, visiting the cave’s Hollywood room is still one of the Meramec Caverns activities that you need to do as it still has a nice unique view to offer.
4See the Mirror Room
The cave also has a mirror room that is worth talking about and having a good look of it is also one of the Meramec Caverns activities that are not to be missed. This is because the area offers a jaw-dropping sight to see because of the optical illusion that it gives.
This area is actually a room within the cavern that holds a stream of water. When you hover a group of lights on it, it would create an optical illusion of water that has a depth that can be as great as 50 ft. But apparently, the stream of water is just about 0.46 meters deep. The illusion of its depth is just created because of the cave’s roof on the undisturbed water which can be cool to look at.
5Mine for Treasures
This Meramec Caverns activity is perfect for kids or maybe even kids at heart. In this activity, kids can pan for gold, fossils, and other gemstones. And to top it all off, the fun activity takes place in a 19th century setting. It’s totally an immersive activity that they will surely love.
However, it is worth noting that this activity is not always available as the Meramec Mining Company were kids can get to pretend and play is only open during summer months. So if your kids want to try this out, you might want to move your visit on summer.
6Go on a Zipline Adventure
Aside from the sightseeing Meramec Caverns activities, you can also try out more activities that will keep your heart racing. One of which is the zip line activity that the place has to offer. It’s not an activity inside the cavern, though. But with this activity, you can get to see the Meramec river that’s near the caverns as the ride fills you with adrenaline. There will be four zip rides waiting for you that range in 200 to more than 12,000 feet in length that reach the speed of 50 mph. Aside from the zip rides, you can also try out their three swinging sky bridges. It’s definitely one of the must-try Meramec Caverns activities that will fill your day with so much fun and memories. What’s even better is that this activity is perfect for the whole family.
However, like the mining activity for kids, this attraction is not available throughout the year too. If you’re eyeing on trying this adventure, note that it only opens from the month of March to October. That said, you might want to check your schedule first so you can make sure that it’s open once you visit the caverns.
7Go Canoeing and Try Out the Riverboat Rides
Speaking of Meramec River, another one of the Meramec Caverns activities that you will definitely enjoy trying out their riverboat tours and canoe float activities. Here, you can also get to explore and know more about the Meramec River, particularly when you try out the riverboat ride tour. Here, you can enjoy a relaxing half-hour long excursion as you delve deeper into the history of the area.
In addition to that, you can also get to enjoy the scenic views that the Meramec River has to offer as you take a six or even an eleven-mile float on the river. In addition to that, you can rent kayaks and rafts as well. However, note that these Meramec River activities are dependent on the weather and river conditions. That said, you might want to check out the weather first if you’re after these activities.
Of course, what better way to remember your trip than by buying souvenirs at their very own gift shop. Here, they have a wide variety of gift and souvenir items. From the traditional tourist type gifts like postcards, T-shirts, and toys to even the most exotic items like unique rocks and rare minerals, you can find them all in their gift shop. It’s the perfect stop to find items that will definitely enhance your Meramec Caverns memories.
9Fill Your Tummies
Visiting the Meramec Caverns will be a day full of activities. Although it’s a lot of fun, it can be quite tiring. When this happens, fill our self up with the mouth-watering food that they offer. The place has a restaurant where you can enjoy a wide array of dishes – from home-style cooking to tasty desserts.
10Spend the Night in the Area
If you don’t want to go home yet and still enjoy the beauty of the place, camping is one of the Meramec Caverns activities that is best for you. They have a campground where you can stay the night, get even more closer to nature, and fill your eyes with the scenic beauty that the whole place has to offer.
You can also choose to stay in the Meramec Caverns Motel if you want a more comfortable lodging. However, note that these lodging and camping activities are only open from April 1 to Ocober 31.
The Meramec Caverns is definitely a nice place to visit because aside from the Meramec Caverns activities that it can offer, you can also get to fill you eyes with views that you will only get to see in the area. It’s a perfect destination for families too so why not plot your visit now?