Bridal Cave: 526 Bridal Cave Rd., Camdenton, MO 65020

Missouri is home to over 6000 caves and there are about 300 in the Lake of the Ozarks area alone! So during our Family Travel shoot in Lake of the Ozarks, we knew we had to visit one of nature’s underground treasures. We took a tour of Bridal Cave where legend has it Osage Native American Indians held a wedding ceremony there in the early 1800’s. Since then, the beauty of the cave has been a backdrop for thousands of weddings. Visitors can actually see wedding photos of happy couples tying the knot on display in the guest shop.

The tour started with a lesson in the cave’s structure. The guide explained that stalactites hang down like an icicle from the top of the cave. Stalactites are formed from calcium salts that are deposited by dripping water. Stalagmites are a mound of mineral deposits that grow up from the floor of the cave. The mound is an accumulation of the deposits in the water that drips from the cave ceiling. To help us remember, she said that stalactites hold tight to the ceiling while stalagmites might someday reach the ceiling!

We were told not to touch the walls of the cave in order to help preserve it. The guide explained that the oils, dirt and other bits of debris on our fingers can negatively affect the caves. Before you go on a cave tour, talk to your kids about why it’s important to respect the cave by keeping your hands to their sides.

At the end of the cave tour, we came upon a pool of water which is called Mystery Lake. If you look closely, you will see some wood at the bottom of the water. You can have the kids guess how they think the wood got there….use those imaginations!

Bridal_Cave_FarleyMy kids really enjoyed the Bridal Cave and we made a full morning of our experience there. Before they took the tour, the kids panned for special gems in the sand. You can buy bags of treasure in the gift shop and let the kids have fun sifting the sand out to discover little gemstones. The girls then had fun matching their finds to a list of gems to see what they had uncovered. It kept them busy for a while and they had a fun souvenir to remember their visit.

Bridal Cave is located on the edge of the lake. In fact, you can dock your boat just next to the cave area. After the tour, the girls went down by the dock and fed the fish in the lake. It was the simple activities like this that they really enjoyed during our family vacation in Lake of the Ozarks.

Some Additional Tips:
• The Bridal Cave website has some great resources for Kids Only with fun facts and general information.

• Jacob’s Cave, 23114 Hwy TT, Versailles, MO, is fully accessible and is the largest cave in the area.

• Fantasy World Caverns, 125 Cave Dr, Eldon, MO, has a large underground lake and a great history as a speakeasy and a ballroom.

Ozark Caverns, 823 Ozark Caverns Road, Linn Creek, MO, is a state owned cave known for its Angels Shower. It’s also fully accessible and children’s tours are offered June 1- Aug 15, which last for about 30-45 minutes, and .25 of a mile.

• Spelunking is the hobby of exploring caves…love that word!

• Stalactites and stalagmites can eventually join, but it would take a long time since they only grow about an inch every 100 years.

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