Visit My Arkansas every Wednesday for information on outdoors and sports.
Discovered in 1963, Blanchard Springs Caverns and Recreation Area near Mountain View is filled with unspoiled formations such as the 65-foot-high “The Column,” as well as another huge formation named “The Flowstone.” There are guided walking tours and a wild cave tour through this active cavern system that features sparkling calcite formations, stalactites, stalagmites and columns. The cave was opened to the public in 1973 and contains a visitor information center. The recreation area has crystal clear streams, large flowing spring (12,000 gallons per minute), small lake, scenic trails, picturesque bluffs, fishing, campground, hiking and biking trails, picnic grounds and swim areas.
My family is spending part of Spring Break there. Here’s a roundup of the spring/summer schedule, which is March 11 through Sept. 3, what you can find there, accessibility, and what it costs:
The Dripstone Trail in the Caverns is open year round. The cost is $10.50 for adults, $5.50 for children ages 6-15, .50 cents for children 5 and younger, and $5.50 for those with an Interagency Senior/Access Pass (good for cardholder only). It is wheelchair accessible with two strong assistants. You can get a group rate for at least 15 people ages 6 and older with reservations made at least a day in advance.
The Discovery in the Dark Headlamp Tour is open from March 11 through 24 at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; Saturdays only at 12:45 p.m. March 17 through May 19. The cost is the same as the above Dripstone Trail. The trail is not accessible. It has nearly 200 stair steps. No group rate is offered, but you may make reservations at least a day in advance.
The Discovery Trail is open Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day at the same cost as the Dripstone Trail. It has nearly 700 stair steps and thus is not wheelchair accessible. A group rate is available for at least 15 people ages 6 and up with reservations made at least a day in advance.
The Wild Cave Tour is offered year round by reservation only. The cost is $75.50 per person and you must be at least 10 years old to participate. Kids ages 10-12 must tour with a responsible adult. It definitely is not wheelchair accessible because it requires strenuous climbing, crawling, and sliding. No group rates are offered and reservations may be made at least a day in advance, although it can sell out for the day, so make your reservations earlier when possible.
The Visitor Information Center is open year round, is free, and is wheelchair accessible. It contains a movie, exhibit hall, and gift shop.
The campground is open at a cost of $10 per night at the Blanchard Recreation Area and $7 per night at Gunner Pool. It is accessible and large and small group campsites are available at Blanchard by reservation.
The hiking trails are also open at no cost. There is one accessible trail at the visitor center. The Syllamo Mountain Biking Trail is open and there is a parking fee. The picnic grounds and swim areas are open and there is a day use fee unless you can show a Caverns tour receipt dated that day. The picnic grounds are accessible but the swim area is not. Large and small picnic pavilions at Blanchard are available for groups by reservation.