Although the caves at Devil’s Den State Park and Withrow Springs State Park are closed to the public as state and federal agencies work to protect these caves and the bats that inhabit them from white-nose syndrome, Arkansas’s show caves are still open for business. These seven caves in the Ozarks include Blanchard Springs Caverns operated by the U.S. Forest Service and the following privately-operated caverns: Bull Shoals Caverns, Cosmic Cavern in Berryville, Mystic Caverns south of Harrison in Marble Falls, Old Spanish Treasure Cave near Sulphur Springs, Onyx Cave six miles east of Eureka Springs, and War Eagle Cavern near Rogers on Beaver Lake. Information on these caverns can be found here.
Ranked among the most beautiful underground discoveries of the 20th Century, Blanchard Springs Caverns is located in the Ozark National Forest, 15 miles north of Mountain View. It is the only developed cave system operated by the U.S. Forest Service and is open throughout the year. It also stays at a temperature of around 58 degrees Fahrenheit year round so is a pretty perfect destination for a summer venture.
The cave is often called the “living cave” because the rock formations in the cave are constantly changing and growing. For the adventurous, Forest Service guides also lead a venture known as the Wild Cave Tour. Blanchard Springs Recreational Use Area has campgrounds, picnic areas, hiking trails, and a trout-stocked lake. For more information visit www.BlanchardCaveTours.com or call 870- 757-2211.
Of note, while Blanchard Springs Caverns remains open, all other caves in the Ozark National Forest were closed in 2009. Decontamination procedures were set in place at Blanchard Springs Caverns at that time as recommended by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. These procedures include a pre-screening questionnaire for cave visitors, decontamination measures for visitors having visited a cave in a state positive for white-nose syndrome, and limits on items that can be carried into the cave.