Blanchard Springs Caverns

Last updated
Blanchard Springs Cavern

Ghost Room.jpg

Speleothems in Blanchard Springs Cavern
Location Stone County, Arkansas, U.S.
Nearest city Fifty-Six
Coordinates 35°57′49.26″N92°10′45.58″W / 35.9636833°N 92.1793278°W / 35.9636833; -92.1793278 Coordinates: 35°57′49.26″N92°10′45.58″W / 35.9636833°N 92.1793278°W / 35.9636833; -92.1793278
Governing body United States Forest Service
The "Giant Flowstone" in Blanchard Springs Caverns, seen on the Discovery Tour. Blanchard Springs Giant Flowstone.jpg
The "Giant Flowstone" in Blanchard Springs Caverns, seen on the Discovery Tour.

Blanchard Springs Caverns is a cave system located in the Ozark–St. Francis National Forest in Stone County in northern Arkansas, 2 miles off Highway 14 a short distance north of Mountain View. [1] It is the only tourist cave owned by the United States Forest Service and the only one owned by the Federal government outside the National Park System. Blanchard Springs Caverns is a three-level cave system, all of which can be viewed on guided tours. The Dripstone Trail runs through the uppermost level of caverns for about a half-mile and opened in 1973. [2] The Discovery Trail opened in 1977 and loops through a 1.2-mile section of the cavern, descending to the lower level of the cave, 366 feet underground, as well as to the Natural Entrance, about 100 feet below ground at that point, following the stream bed of the springs that created the cavern. This trail includes the Rimstone Dams, which create pools along the stream bed, and the Ghost Room, a small but very well decorated room in the uppermost level, with its huge white flowstone. Also offered is a "Wild Cave" tour which allows access to undeveloped parts of the cave to more adventurous visitors. It follows the upstream section of the cave, allowing visitors to see all three levels as the original explorers did, continuing beyond where the Discovery Trail ends.

Cave Natural underground space large enough for a human to enter

A cave or cavern is a natural void in the ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word cave can also refer to much smaller openings such as sea caves, rock shelters, and grottos, though strictly speaking a cave is exogene, meaning it is deeper than its opening is wide, and a rock shelter is endogene.

Ozark–St. Francis National Forest

The Ozark – St. Francis National Forest is a United States National Forest that is located in the state of Arkansas. It is composed of two separate forests, Ozark National Forest in the Ozark Mountains; and St. Francis National Forest on Crowley's Ridge. Each forest has distinct biological, topographical, and geological differences.

Stone County, Arkansas County in the United States

Stone County is located in the Ozark Mountains in the U.S. state of Arkansas. The county is named for rugged, rocky area terrain of the Ozarks. Created as Arkansas's 74th county on April 21, 1873, Stone County has two incorporated cities: Mountain View, the county seat and most populous city, and Fifty-Six. The county is also the site of numerous unincorporated communities and ghost towns.



Local residents knew about the cave by the 1930s and called it Half-Mile Cave. [3] The first systematic exploration of the cave began in the 1950s and continued sporadically through the 1960s. Additionally, in 1955, explorers discovered a Native American skeleton in the cave. The skeletal remains were incomplete and a cause of death could not be ascertained. How this explorer entered the cave is unknown. The caverns were opened to the public in 1973 after 10 years of development on the Dripstone Trail. Blanchard Springs Caverns received its name from the cave's resurgence, Blanchard Springs. The springs, in turn, were named for John Blanchard, who owned about 160 acres of land, which was downstream from the spring, and used to power a cotton gin and grist mill that Mr. Blanchard owned and operated. Blanchard died in 1914.

Indigenous peoples of the Americas Pre-Columbian inhabitants of North, Central, and South America and their descendants

The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the Pre-Columbian peoples of North, Central and South America and their descendants.


With 8.1 miles of surveyed passage, Blanchard is the second longest cave in Arkansas and the largest in volume. [4] The limestone rock from which the caves and their formations developed was laid down in an ancient sea more than 350 million years ago. The cave is in middle Ordovician to lower Mississippian rocks and extends through six stratigraphic formations. [4] The cave has shown over 5 levels of passage development but the upper two levels have eroded away as deepening valleys on the surface cut into them. The cave's formation was largely phreatic in nature (formed below the water table) and passages have elliptical cross-sections typical of these formations. During the cave's development, active streams have been pirated from one level down to another without much vadose erosion occurring. The present stream currently rises from the cave at Blanchard Springs itself, at the same temperature as the cave, a constant, year-round 58 °F (14 °C). Most of the lower-level Discovery Route is in the approximately 100-foot thick Plattin limestone whereas the Dripstone tour route in the uppermost level of the cave spans 3 units, the Boone Chert, Cason Shale, and the Fernvale Limestone. [4] Blanchard remains a "living" cave in part because of the care given by visitors and the United States Forest Service. Thus the formations inside continue to grow as calcite is actively deposited by seeping and dripping water. One of the outstanding examples of formation growth is the Giant Flowstone, one of the largest in the U.S., at 164 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 30 feet thick.

The Ordovician is a geologic period and system, the second of six periods of the Paleozoic Era. The Ordovician spans 41.2 million years from the end of the Cambrian Period 485.4 million years ago (Mya) to the start of the Silurian Period 443.8 Mya.

Phreatic is a term used in hydrology to refer to aquifers, in speleology to refer to cave passages, and in volcanology to refer to eruption type.

Related Research Articles

Ozarks Highland region in central-southern United States

The Ozarks, also called the Ozark Mountains or Ozark Plateau, is a physiographic region in the U.S. states of Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and extreme southeastern Kansas. The Ozarks cover a significant portion of northern Arkansas and most of the southern half of Missouri, extending from Interstate 40 in Arkansas to the Interstate 70 in central Missouri.

Natural Bridge Caverns

The Natural Bridge Caverns are the largest known commercial caverns in the U.S. state of Texas. The name is derived from the 60 ft natural limestone slab bridge that spans the amphitheater setting of the cavern's entrance. The span was left suspended when a sinkhole collapsed below it.

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve national monument in the United States

Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is a protected area in the northern Siskiyou Mountains of southwestern Oregon in the United States. The 4,554-acre (1,843 ha) park, including the marble cave, is 20 miles (32 km) east of Cave Junction, on Oregon Route 46. The protected area, managed by the National Park Service (NPS), is in southwestern Josephine County, near the Oregon–California border.

Luray Caverns landform

Luray Caverns, originally called Luray Cave, is a cave just west of Luray, Virginia, United States, which has drawn many visitors since its discovery in 1878. The cavern system is generously adorned with speleothems such as columns, mud flows, stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, and mirrored pools. The caverns are perhaps best known for the Great Stalacpipe Organ, a lithophone made from solenoid-fired strikers that tap stalactites of various sizes to produce tones similar to those of xylophones, tuning forks, or bells.

Jewel Cave National Monument cave in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA

Jewel Cave National Monument contains Jewel Cave, currently the third longest cave in the world, with 200.3 miles of mapped passageways. It is located approximately 13 miles (21 km) west of the town of Custer in Black Hills of South Dakota. It became a national monument in 1908.

Florida Caverns State Park

Florida Caverns State Park is a state park of Florida in the United States, part of the Florida State Parks system. It is located in the Florida Panhandle near Marianna. It is the only Florida state park with air-filled caves accessible to the public.

Cosmic Cavern is a limestone cave located in north Arkansas, near the town of Berryville, Arkansas. One brochure for the cave touts it as "Arkansas' Most Beautifully Decorated Cave." It is the "warmest" cave in the Ozarks, having a high humidity holding at a constant 62 degrees year-round. Most caves in the area are between 55° and 60°.

Bluespring Caverns cave in United States of America

Bluespring Caverns is a cave system located in Lawrence County, Indiana, approximately 80 miles (128 km) south of Indianapolis. The cave system is a karst and river type cave formation and drains a 15 miles² (38.8 km²) sinkhole plain. The cave contains 21 miles (34 km) of surveyed passages and is most notable for having the longest known subterranean river in the United States with approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) of navigable river.

Ruby Falls underground waterfall within Lookout Mountain, Tennessee

Ruby Falls is a 145 foot (44 m) high underground waterfall located within Lookout Mountain, near Chattanooga, Tennessee in the United States.

Marengo Cave cave in United States of America

Marengo Cave is a privately owned cave located in Marengo, Indiana. One of only four show caves in Indiana, public tours of the cave have been given since 1883. Tours commenced just days after the cave's discovery by two school children. The cave was designated as a National Natural Landmark in 1984.

Illinois Caverns State Natural Area

Illinois Caverns is a state natural area in the New Design Precinct of Monroe County, Illinois. It features Illinois Caverns which is alternatively known as Mammoth Cave of Illinois. Illinois Caverns is the second-largest cave in Illinois and has more than 9.6 km of passages. The cave has a constant temperature of 58 °F (14 °C), and portions flood during wet weather. Passages can be 20 feet (6.1 m) high and just as wide. It is located off Illinois Route 3, south of Waterloo, near the unincorporated community of Burksville.

Ohio Caverns

Ohio Caverns is a show cave located 30 miles (48 km) from Dayton, Ohio near West Liberty, in Salem Township, Champaign County, Ohio in the United States. A popular tourist destination and member of the National Caving Association, it is the largest of all the cave systems in Ohio and contains many crystal formations. Approximately 90% of its stalactite and stalagmite formations are still active. The cavern system was originally an aquifer, holding an underground river of melted glacier water. This river eventually receded to lower levels of the ground and is now unseen.

Black Chasm Cave cave in United States of America

Black Chasm Cavern is a cave nestled in the hamlet of Volcano, located in Amador County, California.

Wyandotte Caves park and its caverns in southern Indiana

Wyandotte Caves, a pair of limestone caves located on the Ohio River in Harrison-Crawford State Forest in Crawford County, 5 miles (8 km) north-east of Leavenworth and 12 miles (19 km) from Corydon in southern Indiana, is a popular tourist attraction. Wyandotte Caves were designated a National Natural Landmark in 1972. They are now part of O'Bannon Woods State Park. The cave system is the 5th largest in the state of Indiana.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park United States National Park in the Guadalupe Mountains in southeastern New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park is an American national park in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico. The primary attraction of the park is the show cave, Carlsbad Cavern. Visitors to the cave can hike in on their own via the natural entrance or take an elevator from the visitor center.

Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Raccoon Mountain Caverns is a commercial solution cave located in Chattanooga, Tennessee in a band of Mississippian Period limestone, part of the Cumberland Plateau.

Grand Caverns

Grand Caverns, formerly known as Weyer's Cave, is located in the central Shenandoah Valley in the town of Grottoes, Virginia, United States. A limestone cavern, it claims the distinction of being America's oldest show cave, in operation since 1806.

Crystal Grottoes

Crystal Grottoes is the only show cave in the U.S. state of Maryland. It is located on Maryland Route 34 between Boonsboro and Antietam National Battlefield.

Dixie Caverns cave in United States of America

Dixie Caverns is a commercial show cave located in the Riverside community of Roanoke County, Virginia, USA, four miles west of Salem. The cave is a limestone solution cave.


  1. Jack May. "Blanchard Springs Caverns - Arkansas". Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  2. "Blanchard Springs Caverns". Encyclopedia of Arkansas . Retrieved 2016-03-04.
  3. Rossiter, Phyllis (1992). A Living History of the Ozarks. Pelican Publishing. p. 307. ISBN   978-0882898018.
  4. 1 2 3 Goodwin, Danny (2009). "Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas". In Palmer, Arthur; Palmer, Margaret. Caves and Karst of the USA. Huntsville, AL: National Speleological Society. pp. 174–176. ISBN   9781879961289.