Americas ride thru cave

America's ride thru cave

America's favorite ride-through cave attraction uses their signature red Jeep which obtained its name in WW2.

There is perhaps no more legendary vehicle on the American road - and off of it - than the Jeep. The rugged four-by-four that built a reputation for performance and reliability during World War II found civilian duty after the war, navigating the hills, forests, and highways of America. And a handful went undercover to become what may be the nations largest fleet of underground Jeep. These eight Jeep pull trams that carry visitors through Fantastic Caverns. Located in the green Ozarks hills just north of Springfield, Missouri, it is America's Ride-Thru Cave.

The Jeeps at Fantastic Caverns are descendants of those that earned their stripes on the battlefields of World War II. More than 600,000 Jeeps were built by Willys and Ford during the war. Developed for the military on the eve of the conflict, the Jeep got its name, so the story goes, from "general purpose" or GP. But the term "Jeep" had already been in the vocabulary of Army slang for years, according to one account.

Citing a 1941 Army report, Jim Allen wrote in Fourwheeler magazine that the word "Jeep" was used by Army mechanics as early as World War I to refer to any new motor vehicle that was brought in for testing. "Jeep" was also derogatory for a new recruit. The name was even given to a comic strip character - Eugene the Magical Jeep, a small, endearing, doglike creature who had mysterious powers and first appeared in "Popeye" comics in 1936.

The Jeep has come a long way - literally - since those days, and the fleet at Fantastic Caverns is no exception. Collectively, the vehicles that ferry visitors through the cave have logged thousands of miles. It's been slow going, too. The cave Jeep's average speed is just under one mile an hour - it takes about 55 minutes to complete the leisurely one-mile cave tour. The odometer on each vehicle clicks an average of just 150 times each year.

Unlike their military and civilian cousins, these Jeeps don’t spend much time contending with mud, snow, ice or blazing summer heat. The temperature in the cave, which is open all year, hovers around a mild 60 degrees during all seasons.

Preserving their historic reputation as a workhouse, the Jeep, provides an innovative way to see one of the country's most accessible tourist attractions. There's no walking necessary, so the tour is ideal for families with small children, older folks and people with physical limitations.

Headlights on the Jeep, are fully functional, but they're seldom needed. The entire tour route through the cave is brightly lit so visitors can see the stalactites, stalagmites, flowstones and other formations that took countless generations to form.

The Jeep-trams are also a less invasive way for guests to see the cave. For example, the vehicles' eight wheels on the cave floor are far less disruptive than hundreds of walking feet would be. The Jeep, also run on propane, a cleaner-burning fuel. Taking care of the environment is important to the owners of Fantastic Caverns. Water quality is closely moni­tored - its purity is vital to wildlife, including the tiny, rare, blind cavefish - that inhabit the underground ecosystem. Great care is also taken to protect the cave's ancient, irreplaceable formations from damage.

Latest Blog Posts

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

What The Great Blue Hole and Fantastic Caverns have in common
What The Great Blue Hole, Richard Branson and Fantastic Caverns have in common. The same processes that created the limestone caves of the Ozarks, such as Fantastic Caverns, also created The Great Blue Hole.
Protecting Fantastic Caverns from TCE
How Fantastic Caverns is preserving and protecting it's natural cave attraction from man-made chemicals, so the cave system can be enjoyed by people for generations to come.
The underground fleet
Fantastic Caverns may not be inhabited by humans but the cave system does have a thriving ecology of small critters that call it home.
America's ride thru cave
America's favorite ride-through cave attraction uses their signature red Jeep which obtained its name in WW2.
The Cave Factory
Caves like Fantastic Caverns aren't very difficult to create for nature, but it requires a whole lot of time, soluble rock and fresh water.
Fantastic Caverns upgrades to LED lighting
Fantastic Caverns will begin using LED technology in order to illuminate their cave attraction without the added costs that traditional light bulbs would have on the environment.
Relief from the hot weather
Escape the heat in Springfield, Missouri by going underground to the various caves systems that consistently stay at cool temperatures.
Summer Discovery, Fantastic Caverns' summertime program
Fantastic Caverns to have the Boys and Girls Clubs of Springfield to participate in their Summer Discovery program.
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