Did you know there are more than 6,400 known caves in Missouri? It's true; it's one of the chief reasons Missouri – which is best known as the "Show-Me State" – also is known as "The Cave State."
Many of the caves in Missouri are small and not open for public tours or exploration. Still, there are plenty of places to enjoy Missouri's underground and to learn about the state's hidden history.
Because caves offer the experience of total darkness, are cool and often damp, and home to animal life (including bats) it's fairly common for people to have some hesitation about exploring these underground treasures.
But the show caves in Missouri are some of the safest in the nation; they are inspected at least once, if not twice, annually by the Missouri Department of Labor, and they adhere to strict state safety codes. To see a quick video about cave safety and how our caves are inspected, please Click Here
The Show Caves in Missouri offer everything from unsolved mysteries (did Jesse James really hide an as-yet-to-be-found fortune in Meramec Caverns, in Stanton?), to a connection with literary figures such as Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn (in five of his books, Mark Twain wrote about the cave that now bears his name).
Here's a quick look at the Missouri Show Caves you'll find on VisitMO.com:
In addition to these caves, Roubidoux Spring Cave
, in Waynesville, is open for scuba divers to explore. While there's no fee for this adventure, all divers must be cave-certified and must check-in and present their certification card to the 911 Emergency Communications Center, which is adjacent to the nearby fire station.
Speaking of scuba diving, Bonne Terre Mine
is the world's largest fresh-water scuba venue; and it is all underground in a billion gallon lake. The scuba exploration at Bonne Terre offers visibility of up to 100 feet (stadium lights above the water keep the cavern illuminated) and a year-round water temperature of 58 degrees. The upper levels of Bonne Terre are open for one-hour walking tours.
The Missouri University of Science and Technology Experimental Mine
, in Rolla, is an experimental mine that is available for tours, by reservation only.
Check out the Missouri Department of Labor's Cave Webpage