Americas ride thru cave

America's ride thru cave

Posted on Saturday, January 25, 2020, by Hubert Heck

Missouri caves are well known as the most beautiful caves to see in North America and Fantastic Caverns ranks #1 by many. It's America's favorite ride-through cave attraction and uses their signature red Jeeps to drive you around through the cave.

As visitors board a comfortable Jeep-drawn tram for the 55-minute tour of America's Ride-Thru Cave, they begin a journey back in time. People are very recent additions to this picture. Human history adds up to little more than a few ticks on the geologic clock by which caves count their age.

Located in the green Ozarks hills just north of Springfield, Missouri, it is America's Ride-Thru Cave.

Fantastic Caverns, just northwest of Springfield, MO, is one of more than 7,400 documented caves that dot the Missouri land­scape, and more are still being discovered. Of these, just 17 are open to visitors - and Fantastic Caverns is the only one to offer a completely all-riding cave experience. Propane-powered Jeep-drawn trams ferry visitors through the cave.

Riding wasn’t even an option back in 1867 when the first known explorers visited Fantastic Caverns. They were twelve women who, equipped with ropes and ladders, ventured inside to answer the landowner’s advertisement for cave explorers. With only flickering torches or lanterns for light, they surely saw only a hint of the cave's splendors as they groped their way along its dark and slippery passages. It is unlikely that anyone else had been there before them - the cave shows no signs of human habitation.

Best Missouri caves to visit when you are in Branson and the Ozarks

Taking a cave tour today

Today's riding tour tells a different story. Along the roomy, brightly lit passageways, visitors can see thousands of speleothems - cave formations that include stalactites and stalagmites, tiny soda straws, cave pearls, massive columns and flowstones, thin and delicate draperies and more. These distinctive formations, each one like no other and all created by water a drop at a time, take us back through the ages to a day when no human footsteps or rumbling propane-powered Jeeps were heard here.

While those early explorers had to be in good physical condition, modern visitors don’t have to worry about stamina. Since today’s tour is entirely by tram, with no walking required, families with small children, seniors and individuals with physcial limitations can all sit back and enjoy the ride. Temperatures inside the cave always hover around 60 degrees making it a wonderful adventure regardless of the season or weather.

Missouri Caves and Fantastic Caverns

The process that created southern Missouri’s caves - called a "cave factory" by one geologist - began a very long time ago. Cave formation has been going on in the Ozarks since seismic activity pushed the rocks up from a shallow sea that once covered the region. While it is difficult to tell the exact age of a cave, we know that Fantastic Caverns is sure to be thousands of years old.

The hilly topography and abundant limestone found in the Ozarks make it an ideal setting for cave creation. Just add water and the list of ingredients is complete. As the water percolates through the porous limestone, it chemically eats away at the rock, leaving the voids and cavities that grow into caves - some of which are quite extensive. Some Missouri cave systems are known to be more than 20 miles long. Visitors find Fantastic Caverns to be a spectacular showcase of our state's underground phenomenon - located right here in the heart of the Ozarks.

Young explorers in Jeep drawn tram

Protecting Caves in the Cave State.

Humans have never inhabited these caverns, however, a variety of animals do find a home here. The Grotto Salamander, the Bristly Cave Crayfish, blind Ozarks Cavefish - a reclusive little creature no longer than a finger - can all be found dwelling in the lower levels of Fantastic Caverns. Clean, unpolluted groundwater is vital to these animals and to the cave's overall health. That’s why water quality is carefully monitored.

Bristly Cave Crayfish in Hall of Giants

There's plenty of things to do in the Ozarks.

Fantastic Caverns is convenient to an assortment of destinations, including Bass Pro Shop, Wonders of Wildlife, and just a short drive from Branson, Missouri and its attractions, Fantastic Caverns offers visitors a leisurely side trip from 21st-century life into the distant past.

Jeep drawn tram by Cave Coral

Latest Blog Posts

The latest about our Missouri cave, and other Fantastic Caverns news.

Ozarks Cave Explorer's Club
Travel and tourism are inextricably part of the fabric of the Ozarks’ culture and economy. And caves have been a part of the tourism industry in the Ozarks for a very long time. Find a list of caves in Missouri and Arkansas participating in the Missouri Caves Association’s Ozarks Cave Explorer Passport Program.
Discovered by a Dog
Fantastic Caverns is pet friendly. Fantastic Caverns was discovered by an Ozarks farmer, or more precisely, by his dog. While tracking an animal, the famer's bloodhound disappeared into a small hole at the base of a bluff.
Build Your Own Terrarium and Monitor Water Quality
Stormwater run-off can easily pick up pollutants and cause erosion. Plants and trees help filter stormwater run-off and prevent erosion. The water flowing through the lower levels of Fantastic Caverns, began as stormwater on the surface. Create your own terrariums and monitor water quality.
Create Your Own Cave Confections
Create your own cave treats following these simple recipes. Caves provide habitats for unique species. Make your own edible cave habitats in the form of hollow meringue cookies or dessert rolls.
Cave and Karst Picture Finds
Find cave animals in these photos. The karst terrain of the Ozarks provides habitat for unique life. There is a very delicate ecosystem beneath our feet.
Create Your Own Aquifer in a Cup
Create your own miniature aquifer in a cup. The limestone present in the Ozarks has cracks and voids that allow water to permeate and pass through it. Water flowing through the limestone passages of Fantastic Caverns, began as rainwater.
Create Your Own Crystals
You can easily grow your own crystals using sugar, salt or alum. Many crystals are minerals, and occur naturally. Minerals are the building blocks of rocks, like the limestone of Fantastic Caverns.
Cave and Karst Word Searches
Find words related to caves and cave life in these fun Cave and Karst Word Searches. Missouri is known as the Cave State, boasting more than 7,500 caves and counting.
Make Your Own Limestone Fossil Sugar Cookies
You can find fossilized remains of ancient creatures within the limestone of Fantastic Caverns. Create your own limestone-inspired fossils in the form of sugar cookies.
Create Your Own Cave in a Cup
Create your own cave. As water flows beneath the Earth's surface it dissolves and erodes the rock, forming the cavities that become caves.
Health and Safety at Fantastic Caverns
The health and safety of our guests are top of mind as we continue to offer our memorable ride through cave experiences. We have increased the frequency of our everyday health and safety protocols and procedures, and we are taking precautions to keep everyone safe and healthy.
The underground fleet
Climb aboard the underground fleet at Fantastic Caverns and explore the world beneath your feet. Touring Fantastic Caverns by Jeep drawn trams helps preserve the cave. America's Ride Thru Cave may not be inhabited by humans but the cave system does have a thriving ecology of small critters that call it home.
Phone: 417-833-2010
Fax: (417) 833-2042
Fantastic Caverns
4872 N Farm Rd 125
Springfield, MO 65803
Trip Adviser certificate of excellence for Fantastic Caverns