Blanchard Springs Caverns Arkansas

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Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas. Family day trip and things to do in the area to include swimming, picnic ares, country stores and more.

The Arkansas heat in the summer is not something anyone ever gets use to. So when family comes to visit mid-summer, we suggest things like the lake, water park, movie theater, escape room ect.

That’s when our daughter chimed in with a brilliant plan. “Why don’t we go to the caves?” Blanchard Springs Caverns sits at a comfortable 58°F year round, making it the perfect family activity any time of year.

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We’ve been to Blanchard Springs Caverns once before, but at the time our youngest one was only 2 years old and even though these caverns are family friendly, she really wanted to run the entire way through the tour.

Have you ever heard a two year old scream in a cave because they didn’t get their way? Yup, it echoes.. echoes.. oes..

BLANCHARD SPRINGS CAVERNS

Blanchard Springs Caverns is a cave system located in the Ozark’s of Arkansas. Residents first discovered it in the 1930’s and referred to it as Half-Mile cave. Exploration of the cave started in 1950 and continued on into the 1960’s

After 10 years of development the Dripstone Trail was opened to the public in 1973.

Blanchard Springs Caverns stalagmite formation.

TWO CAVERN TOURS AVAILABLE

Blanchard Springs Caverns offers two tours to choose from with different experience levels. It is highly recommended that you purchase tickets head of time either online at Recreation.gov-Blanchard Springs Caverns or by phone (877) 444-6777. This is an incredibly popular spot on the weekends and tours can sell out, so be sure to plan ahead and make reservations.

Dripstone Trail

The Dripstone Trail is family friendly and perfect for all ages. It is both stroller and wheelchair accessible and isn’t very strenuous at only 0.5 miles long.

An elevator brings you some 200+ feet underground and the tour guide gives you a little speech before you enter. Upon entering you walk a paved path to some stadium seating where your guide will give you more information about the cave. The lights slowly come on and you can see the entirety of the cave and just how big and breathtaking it really is.

Blanchards Spring Caverns Dripstone Trail with paved walkway.

You’ll follow the paved path while the guide points out different formations and tells a more in depth history of the cave and how it was discovered.

Professional lights highlighting stalactites in the cave.

Note- Towards the end the paved walkway can be a little steep. Just something to keep in mind if you have a stroller or wheelchair with you.

Discovery Trail

The Discovery Trail is a 1.2 mile loop that descends to the middle level of the cave. This tour is more strenuous and fast pace. It includes 700 stairs and is only offered at certain times of the year.

Wild Cave Tour

Not offered at this time. Allows visitors to explore undeveloped parts of cave the way the original explorers did. More advanced skill level.

Bring large stalagmite formation lit up with professional lights.

What happens if I bring my small child and they decide this is not the place for them- With you are two tour guides. One at the front leading the group and one at the back, following. When my daughter continued to have a hard time, I asked the tour guide if it was possible that we take the elevators back up but instead she offered to give us a quick tour with her in front of the group since we were more than halfway through. We were able to wait for the rest of the group outside the cave exit where a bus would take us back up to the visitors center.

I want to note that no one was upset that my little one was having a hard time. She isn’t normally like that so it wasn’t something that I could predicted would happen. It’s also important to experience new things at all ages. It’s just how we learn. As young parents and as little children.

Young or old, if you decide the cave is not for you, they will help you exit.

THINGS TO DO IN THE AREA

BLANCHARD SPRINGS CAVERNS VISITORS CENTER

The visitors center and cavern tours are in the same building. As you walk in you’ll have several areas to explore. Park rangers are available at the front desk to hand you a map of the area and answer any questions you might have. Questions about swimming holes, picnic areas and anything else you can think of.

Be sure to check in for your tour at the counter behind them.

Blanchard Springs Caverns visitors center.

Over to the left is a nice little gift shop where you can browse around and pick up a souvenir or two on your way out. To the right you’ll find glass double doors leading you to another section where they have a small museum about the caverns. It’s a great little spot to kill time and get the kids ready for what to expect.

BLANCHARD SPRINGS TRAIL

  • 0.2 miles
  • easy
  • paved
  • on site parking loop

After visiting the caverns head over to Blanchard Spring Trail. It’s a short drive from the caverns and an easy, paved, path for little ones to see a small waterfall.

Waterfall at the end of Blanchard Springs Trail.

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MIRROR LAKE

  • fishing
  • view waterfall
  • small stroll on boardwalk
  • view the old mill ruins

As you turn down the road to get to Blanchard Springs Trail, you’ll pass Mirror Lake on the left hand side. By visiting Blanchard Springs Trail first, you’ll be able to loop back around and find easy parking off the side of the road for Mirror Lake.

Mirror Lake is a great spot for fishing and here you’ll also find the famous Mirror Lake waterfall.

Mirror Lake waterfall.

After descending a few steep stairs you’ll be on a flat boardwalk were you have an overhead view of the falls. You can then walk the boardwalk downstream where you’ll see an old stone foundation below you.

*Note Handicap Access- You can find handicap access to Mirror Lake on a road just before the RV dump station. -View map here- It’s a small road on the right hand side as you head downhill, so keep your eyes open and go slow. This handicap access area makes for an easy stroll down the boardwalk to view Mirror Lake and the waterfall. It’s well shaded and has no stairs or steps.

Boardwalk along Mirror Lake.

THE OLD MILL AT MIRROR LAKE

From the boardwalk at Mirror Lake you’ll see an old mill through the trees under you. To get there you will need to follow the boardwalk all the way to the end. It’ll lead you to the handicap parking area. To the right of the parking lot you’ll see a small unofficial trail through the woods.

This will take you to the old mill ruins and to the bottom of Mirror Lake waterfall.

Trail leading to Mirror Lake waterfall.
The Old Mill Ruins with climbing vines.

BLANCHARD SPRINGS RECREATION AREA

  • picnic area
  • cave shelter
  • fishing along the stream
  • swimming area
  • showers/restrooms

Blanchard Springs day use area has a fee of $3 per vehicle. At the day use area you’ll find several great little spots to include picnic areas, privillions for rent and a swimming area. -View Map-

CAVE SHELTER

As you come down the hill into the recreation area you’ll find a parking lot on the left hand side. If you head into the parking area you’ll find a really fun cave shelter to explore with the kids. It’s across a nice grassy lawn and tucked under the rock bluffs.

SWIMMING AREA

The North Sylamore Creek swimming hole is a great place to spend the afternoon in the water. At first the creek appears to be shallow since it’s not really wide, but as you head into the middle of the creek it drops off and is so clear and refreshing on a hot summer day. -No lifeguard on duty

Note- You will NEED swimming shoes. There are smooth rocks all along the shoreline and even though it doesn’t really bother you once you sit in the water, walking anywhere is painful and will bring a grown man to his knees. You have been warned.

North Sylamore Creek swimming hole.

OK TRADING POST

At the OK Trading Post you can take a scenic horseback ride with one of their knowledgable trail guides, visit the farm animals at their petting zoo and stop by their gift shop for a souvenir to bring home. Looking for more of an adventure? They even offer an overnight camping experience.

MELLON’S COUNTRY STORE

Located just off of route 5 is Mellon’s Country Store. Stop in for a sweet treat and the largest Jelly Bean wall I have ever see. Be sure to try the spicy mango Jelly Bean.

Wall of Jelly Beans.

Nearby Restaurants

AMAZON FINDS FOR A GREAT DAY TRIP

Of course there are other great places to visit in the area and these are just a few of them. Be sure to ask the park rangers at the visitors center for more information to including hiking, fishing, camping and more!

We’ll see you on our next adventure!

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