Individuals deciding to visit Fantastic Caverns during flood events will get the rare chance to walk through the Hall of Giants. A favorite among guests, the Hall of Giants is full of large and beautiful formations and is the first room early explorers would have stumbled upon after venturing through the original small opening in the hillside. The large chamber is only a small part of the mile-long tour route. This limited-time offer is available until the water levels within Fantastic Caverns recede.
This is a great time to see how water interacts with the built and natural environments above ground, and how groundwater infiltrates into the karst features below ground. When large amounts of rain falls within Fantastic Caverns’ watershed in short amount of time, the water can have a big impact within the cave and on the grounds. Once water begins to collect inside the cave, it doesn’t leave as quickly as it came in. Indian Spring is the wet weather spring that empties out the lower levels of Fantastic Caverns. It drastically increases output during periods of wet weather. At its peak, the spring empties out around 9,000 gallons of water a minute, but that isn’t enough to keep the cave tour route dry after extensive rainfall. The water racing out of the spring collides with the fast flowing Little Sac River, slowly draining water from the Fantastic Caverns system.
Large amounts of rainfall can briefly suspend the all-riding cave tours, but guests still have plenty to learn and see. “This is a rare opportunity for everybody to see how the surface and subsurface are related. A lot of the water that found its way into the cave originated near the sinkholes around the Springfield-Branson National Airport. As a community we have to be careful what we do. Contaminates could find their way into our groundwater along with all this storm water. As sensitive areas are developed, runoff increases and that results in additional flooding,” said Doug Campbell, General Manager at Fantastic Caverns.
Large-scale development near karst features and waterways can be detrimental to public safety. When attempts to contain and redirect storm water aren’t successful, looking for different approaches to flood protection is necessary. Similar to over-built levee systems along the Mississippi River and other river-ways, extensive development in the Cave State will restrict the natural dispersion of flood waters. Water needs plenty of room to flow naturally, especially during flood events.
Visit Fantastic Caverns at 4872 North Farm Road 125 just northwest of Springfield, Missouri and see how water moves through these Ozarks hills. There is plenty of opportunity to visit, Fantastic Caverns is open 362 days a year, but the cave only floods once in about every five years and recedes within a few days. Free walking tours within one cave chamber are offered when water levels within Fantastic Caverns prevent the safe operation of Jeep-drawn trams. Though it is not the usual Fantastic Caverns experience when there is a lot of water in the cave, it is truly a unique time to visit.