An Underground Castle

Yesterday I traveled to Blanchard Springs Caverns outside of the towns of Mountain View and Fifty Six.
I had never visited the caverns but had heard about this unusual Arkansas attraction for years. My tour guide Denny Anderson compared the caverns as an “underground castle.” He was right; the cave reminded me of a hidden fortress below the surface of the earth. It has many rooms and columns and its crystal adorned walls sparkle and shine as if the king’s decorator spared no expense. Denny described the cave as having a basement, which is filled with water, a main floor, and an attic. The attic is a spectacular massive room filled with stalactites, stalagmites, columns, soda straws, and ponds. During the 1970’s, The US Forest Service installed elevators and handicap accessible walkways to accommodate the many tourist that visit each year.
Guests are greeted by friendly faces in the Visitor Information Center where they are directed to the short film, “The World Below,” the exhibit hall and the gift shop. These are great activities to occupy everyone’s time while they are waiting for the next tour to start. Tickets three different cave tours are available for purchase and are offered at different times throughout the day.
There are currently three touring options at Blanchard Springs Caverns. The Dripstone National Recreation Trail is the only tour I had time to experience on this quick trip. A walkway winds through the massive upper level. The longer, more strenuous Discovery National Recreation Trail explores the middle level of the Caverns system. This tour is limited to 30 participants. The Wild Cave Tour offers visitors an introduction to spelunking in a structured environment. The Wild Cave Tour is limited to 12 people. Equipment is provided for this tour and you will need to plan on anywhere between four and six hours of spelunking. Informative Forest Service interpreters serve as your guide for all three tours. 
Blanchard Springs Caverns is administered by the U.S. Forest Service.
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