It all started with two men on a rabbit hunt in 1883. They spotted a rabbit running into a small opening, moved a big rock near the hole and found themselves looking down into a deep, dark mysterious hole in the ground. The men had discovered what is now Talking Rocks Cavern, just a short drive from Springfield.
“We have what I like to call world class formations,” said Chris Gertson, manager of Talking Rocks Cavern. “Even though our cave is not long or extensive by definition, it has some really big beautiful mineral deposits like draperies, stalactites and stalagmites. We have a column in there that’s 65-70 feet tall and we do have all the common types of mineral deposits you’ll find in a limestone cave.”
Talking Rocks Cavern is unique as the entrance to the cave is within its 4,000 square-foot gift shop. The walking tour takes visitors on a breathtaking vertical descent into the heart of the cave.
Chris Gertson takes the Whisler family on a tour of Taking Rocks Cavern in Branson West, Missouri.
“The cave tour consists of about an hour long tour through a very beautiful, highly decorated natural limestone cavern and we do go to a depth of about 100 feet,” added Gertson. “We do take our time. We do stop a lot. We’ve got plenty of handrails so most folks can handle that and we love showing off a natural wonder. It’s just absolutely an amazing cave!”
The gift shop contains all types of interesting rocks, fossils and minerals and interesting items from all over the world. Gertson likes to refer to the shop as a “mini museum.” Besides the natural wonder of the cave, Talking Rocks Cavern also boasts other attractions for the family to enjoy including nature trails, a free lookout tower, crawl mazes that simulate a cave crawl, miniature golf and gemstone mining for the kids.
Gemstone mining at Talking Rocks Cavern in Branson West, Missouri.
Gertson says a visit to the Ozarks isn't complete without a glimpse of what’s down below.
“It gives you a window into a part of the Ozarks that you normally don’t see or even think about — and that’s the underground. Not only is it scientifically interesting … but it’s extremely beautiful,” he said. “There are things you see in that cave that you do not see on the surface.”