There are around 6,400 caves in Missouri, according to the Missouri State Parks website, and visiting any one of these would make a great day trip.

Missouri is known as the Cave State for good reason.

There are around 6,400 caves in Missouri, according to the Missouri State Parks website, and visiting any one of these would make a great day trip.

If you are interested in caves or have ever wanted to go to one, you have a few to choose from nearby. Springfield has two that I personally visited. I went to Fantastic Caverns and Smallin Civil War Cave and liked both of them for different reasons.

I enjoyed the history behind Fantastic Caverns, especially facts such as the way it was discovered. Did you know a man discovered the cave while looking for his dog? Another interesting fact was that bands used to play in the cave before moving to Branson. But don’t let me tell you everything you will learn on the tour of the cave. These are some of the things you’ll learn about, if you take the tour.

I liked that you get to ride in the cave instead of walk through it. In fact, there are only four drive-thru caves in the world, according to JR Mootrey, a Fantastic Caverns tour guide. The other three are in France, Slovenia, and Barbados.

The Smallin Civil War Cave is located in Ozark which is south of Springfield. Unlike Fantastic Caverns, this cave is a walk-through cave. However, I enjoyed this one because I was more immersed in nature. I saw more wildlife living in the cave than I did in Fantastic Caverns. I saw seashells, crayfish, sea sponges, pickerel frogs, and more.

According to Eric Fuller, a staff archaeologist at Smallin Civil War Cave, “Pickerel frogs tend to migrate into the cave as the weather starts to get dry in August. We believe they do this to get moisture. An upsurge in migration occurs as temperatures drop in the Fall. We believe the frogs are trying to avoid the freezing temperatures outside the cave. The frogs, if they survive death by starvation or predation by the Bristly Cave Crayfish, leave the cave around March and April.”

If and when you go to Smallin Civil War Cave, you’ll learn about two other caves that share the property with Smallin Civil War Cave. According to Fuller, “Smallin Civil War Cave is a cave which is 5400 feet long. Upstream from the mouth is a sinkhole called Jeff's Cave, the only other passable entrance into the cave system.

On the property are two other caves. Fielden Cave, due east of Smallin Cave, is 180 feet long. It is joined to Smallin Cave by passages so small only salamanders can traverse them. Disappointment Cave is only 15 feet deep and thus, barely qualifies as a cave (minimum distance 10 feet).”

Make sure you wear appropriate shoes especially for the Smallin Civil War Cave. You will walk for about an hour on the Smallin Civil War Cave tour. Also, consider the weather. Fantastic Caverns stays 60 degrees year round; the Smallin Civil War Cave might be cold depending on when you go.