For those in the blissful grip of wanderlust, the state of Missouri is paradise. To many, it’s some long dreamed-about fairyland that only exists in the pages of a fiction novel. From glistening lakes to glittering waterfalls; rolling hills and sweeping valleys—the Show-Me State seems to have it all. Add the Ozarks, and one understands why Missouri can’t keep quiet about its unimaginably stunning landscape. That’s why there are many reasons to visit Missouri. And the Ozarks, however spectacular, are but a snapshot. But there’s another side to Missouri, an underground side that should add color to the enchanting natural kaleidoscope. And that’s her many caves.

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In this article, we reveal the deepest cave in Missouri and everything about how one can get down to this underground wonderland—that’s one of the longest running tourist attractions in the Ozarks.

Here’s The Fascinating Story Of Missouri’s Deepest Cave

To the native Osage Indians, the gloomy cave that lay on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County deserved the name “Devils Den.”This is because strange sounds used to emanate from the complete darkness that enshrouded the cave’s entrance. This is not surprising. Even those who lay claim to civilization believed in ghosts and demons. Then the Spanish would come to the cave looking for what has been an object of pursuit with many of the world’s great men including Alexander the Great—the fountain of youth. According to folklore, however, they found nothing of the sort.

In the mid-19th century, Americans were hit by a mineral bug. The most highlighted was the California Gold Rush of 1848. About 20 years later, a group of seven lead miners made their way to the Devil’s Den. They were looking for minerals and ores, specifically lead ores. They searched the walls of the cave carefully, testing every piece and particle—but they found nothing. Just bat manure. Instead, the cave looked forbidding, dangerous, and an inch away from nothingness. They would supposedly throw rocks towards the cave’s floor yet not a sound would redound back. They thought this cave was the portal to the “bottomless pit,” a phrase that had surreal connotations.

Since one of the Caves had an unusually flat roof, this seven-member group thought it was made of marble. Because of this, the locals started calling the cave “Marble Cave.” In 1893, William Lynch, a Canadian entrepreneur bought the cave and opened it to the public a year later as a tourist cave. Around the same time, Lynch commissioned Fred Prince, an artist and self-taught naturalist, known for his unlimited curiosity and a sense of adventure—to survey and map the cave. For many days—sometimes even a month—Prince made this cave his home. He knew that the name “Marble Cave” was patently false and tried to change the cave’s name to “Marvel Cave.” But Lynch would hear nothing of it. However, when Lynch died in 1927, his daughters adopted Prince’s suggestion.

Related: 9 Magical Caves Under The Earth You Should Visit.

Here’s How To See Missouri’s Marvel Cave

Today, Marvel Cave lives true to its descriptive name. Visitors to this natural marvel will descend on staircases to the floor of the chamber that opens up like a bell. The descent is 300 feet below the surface and is something to be attempted only by those who are physically fit. The spacious cave room that visitors will first make their way to is called the Cathedral Room, arguably the largest cave entrance room in the country. This tour takes about an hour and is richly punctuated with a tour guide’s informative anecdotes about the cave’s fascinating history and geographical composition.

  • How Much Is The Admission Ticket To Marvel Cave Missouri? This cave is absolutely free. What visitors will need to do is only to pay the admission fee to Silver Dollar City.

Related: Visiting The Stunning Maya Ritual Caves Of The Mayan Peninsula.

As a precautionary measure, visitors should know that, depending on the weather, or sometimes even when the weather is fine, the stairs inside the cave often become slippery and wet—making it crucial to come in shoes which have a firm grip. Of course, strollers are not even allowed. Also, there are places that are narrow and, therefore, will require some bending over to get through. When at the bottom, cave hikers are delightfully transported back to the surface by the use of cable trains.

Aside from the main tour, there’s another special tour known as the “Lantern Light Tour.” In this tour, all electric lights are turned off. Instead, only oil lanterns are used in a tour that tries to simulate the experience of early explorers. Here’s the truth: For those who love caves, and a dash of fascinating history, a visit to Marvel Cave will be a memorable experience.