Exploring Arkansas This Summer

Would you like to escape the heat and humidity this summer while staying outdoors? With temperatures of 57 to 64 degrees Fahrenheit, the show caves of Arkansas provide great family entertainment. Amazing geological formations, bats, interesting historical stories, waterfalls, wild cave tours and gem panning provide cavern activities that will please everyone.

The Ozark Mountain Range is one of the oldest on earth. There are an estimated 2,000 caves spread across Northwest Arkansas. As incredible as the Arkansas unspoiled lakes, mountains and forests are, the limestone caverns underneath these natural wonders are equally inspiring! These “living” caves’ formations are still changing as minerals are constantly deposited by dripping water. Many National Park caverns across the country are closed to protect the bat population, but the caves in Arkansas are open. Listed below are seven show caves which are open to the public.

Blanchard Springs Cavern – 58 degrees year-round in the Ozark-St. Francis National Park, there are different tours available, including a guided wild cave tour for the more physically fit and adventurous.

Bull Shoals Cavern – No stairs and a waterfall make this a great small cavern.

Cosmic Cavern – With a 64-degree temperature, this is the warmest and largest privately owned cavern. It offers two bottomless lakes and gem panning.

Mystic Cavern & Crystal Dome at Marble Falls – These are two of the most beautiful caves and their entrances are just 400’ apart. The Crystal Dome cave was found over 100 years after Mystic Cavern, which is known for its “pipe organ”. These caves have no bats.

Onyx Cave – A small cavern with a self- guided tour and easy access, this cave would be a good choice for small kids and for those who like to move at their own pace.

Old Spanish Treasure Cave – Great stories about hidden treasures from Spanish conquistadors and why the treasure may still be in the cave along with options to pan for minerals and gems.

War Eagle Cavern – The largest cavern in Northwest Arkansas was used by Native Americans hundreds of years before European settlers appeared, and this cavern also offers a “Lost in the Woods” wooden stock maze and gem panning.

If you prefer the heat to being cool this summer, Arkansas has the world’s finest quartz crystals along with Brazil. Families, as well as rock hounds, travel from all over the world to prospect in the Ouachita Mountains for crystals. Mount Ida, the Quartz Capital of the World, can offer “dig-your-own” mines and, also, many rock and gem shops which feature beautiful polished crystals.

Native Americans believed the Ouachita Mountains were mystical. The quartz crystals found here held spiritual and sacred meaning for the Native Americans. An 11,000-year-old quartz arrowhead was found! In 1541, Spanish conquistadors noticed Native Americans collecting crystals, probably found on the surface as they still are today. In the 1800’s mines were already operating in the state. During World War II, Arkansas crystals were in high demand for oscillators used in radar. These high-quality crystals were also used in computer chips and clocks, until the 1960’s when the Japanese grew synthetic crystals. The steady vibrations of Arkansas crystals are highly regarded for use in metaphysical healings and for other purposes. Today, the mines are open to the public.

Twin Creek Crystal Mine and Wegner Mine are just two of the mines providing fun experiences for families and for serious diggers! If you plan a trip, bring sunscreen, bug spray, a hat, water, snacks, an umbrella, digging tools (like a garden hand rake and trowels), knee pads, paper bags to hold the rocks, and a bucket for holding crystals.

Crater of Diamonds is the world’s eighth largest and only “Keep What You Find” diamond-bearing volcanic crater. Visit their Diamond Discovery Center and learn about how to search for diamonds and the many other rocks and minerals, such as garnet, amethyst, agate, jasper, and quartz. Park staff will provide free identification of any diamonds you may find! Amazing diamonds have been found here, including the most perfect diamond ever certified by the American Gem Society. The park offers camping facilities, a water park, gift shop, restaurant and more.

Whether you prefer to stay cool or brave the heat to find diamonds and crystals, Arkansas offers you many great choices. Of course, with the 2020 Coronavirus outbreak, be sure to check for any restrictions before visiting.