Pure white soda straws. Remarkable gravity defying helictites. rare spherical stalactites. Those who explore the natural wonders of the Arkansas Ozarks, miles of unspoiled forests, lakes, rivers, and much more might not realize there is another wilderness just beneath the surface. Below scenic mountains, lush valleys, and clear running streams is an often dazzling underworld, the limestone caves of the Ozarks.
Visitors who venture beneath the surface will find subterranean lakes and streams, mazes, crystals, fossils, cave creatures such as blind trout and salamanders, and an array of formations with names like flowstone, helictite, stalagmite and stalactite.
Most of the Arkansas caves come with a story, usually about how the cave was discovered. Some swirl with legends and ghost tales. Still others recall the days when saber tooth tigers and ancient tribes used the caves for shelter or when desperados used the caves to hide from lawmen and from fellow criminals.
Arkansas, with its karst topography, has several beautiful show caves. Last spring Doug and Tammy Vaneman guided a group of Master Naturalists on a tour of a private bat cave.