Caves in Arkansas

spelunking-arkansas-espirtdeselOne of the best ways to escape the heat in Arkansas is to go visit a cave. Caves stay around 50 to 60 degrees, even in the summer, so they’re a perfect way to escape the heat but still get out and enjoy what nature has to offer. Right now, going into wild caves where bats live isn’t a good idea and isn’t permitted in certain areas because of White-nose Syndrome that’s destroying the bat population. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to explore caves without endangering the lives of Arkansas’ bats.

Why Does Arkansas Have So Many Caves?

Arkansas has a type of topography called Karst topography, where certain rocks are common that are susceptible to dissolution. The bedrock in Arkansas is often made up of rock that dissolves, leading to caves, underground waterways, and other interesting water features. The Glory Hole, or a waterfall through a cave-like structure, is an example of water getting in places where it wouldn’t normally go. Other areas of the country, like the Northeast, don’t have as many caves because the rocks are mostly granite, slate, and other rocks that don’t lend themselves to dissolution. Any area where there’s a cave is because the formation of the topography lead to “soft” spots that water eventually carved out to a hollow.

There are over 2,000 documented caves in our area of Arkansas, 8 of which are operated for tourism as show caves. Non-show caves usually require permits or a guide to go explore them because we want to protect our cave system and the animals and insects that reside in them.

How do I find Wild Caves?

Wild caves are a lot harder to access than show caves and if you’re not an experienced caver, we recommend you go to show caves first, then do a number of guided wild cave tours and then get involved with local speleological groups. Blanchard Springs offers a wild cave tour for the physically fit that is a great introduction to caving.

If you’re on the search for caves, one way to find them is to ask other cavers and poke around. Trespassing is an issue, since most caves are on private property. A lot of cave owners don’t permit visitors for liability reasons, too. However, if you’re looking for caving information, a great place to check out is this website that has lots of photos of area caves in the Ozarks. Joining the local Grotto of the National Speleological Society is also a great way to get involved and learn about exploring caves in your area.

One Comment

  1. […] roof of a cave, you’ve seen photos of the Glory Hole. It was formed by water and the natural Karst topography of the […]

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