Mystic Cavern has been around so long no one is even sure when it was first discovered. The region was settled in the 1830’s and the original entrance was pretty obvious so it can likely be dated to that time. The earliest physical evidence of visitors dates back to 1919 when someone by the name of “Adam Kolbe” carved his name and the date on a cave formation.
By the 1920’s, the cave was a functioning attraction, only the second or third Arkansas show cave to open in the state at that time. The cave was known as both “Mansion Cave” and “Wild Horse Cave” before being renamed “Mystic Caverns” in the 1950’s.
The cave has seen lots of changes and traffic over the years. Trails, ticket houses, electric lights, limestone paths and more were added. So too has damage. Soot, carvings, and a period in the 1940’s when the cave was routinely looted for its stone formations have all taken their toll. Despite this, the cave remains both fascinating and beautiful.
Discovering Crystal Dome Cavern
In the 1960’s a new company took over the cave and began a major makeover. Changes included improving the entrance, cave walkways and lighting, adding a parking lot, and landscaping outside the cave.
During this latter work, a bulldozer broke through the earth’s crust to reveal a previously undiscovered cave below. This new cave was only 400 feet from the entrance to Mystic Cavern.
Crystal Dome Cavern had been discovered!
While Mystic Cavern has seen years of tourism – some of it woefully unsupervised – Crystal Dome Cavern remains dazzlingly pristine.
Touring Mystic Caverns
Visitors to Mystic Caverns have the option of touring one or both caves. While very different, both caves are beautiful, interesting, and well worth your attention.
Mystic Cavern Tour – 40-50 minutes
Follow the same path the area’s first settlers traveled down into an incredible underground chamber. See the spectacular, large calcite formations like the 30′ tall, 12′ wide “Pipe Organ” and hear the infamous “spider monkey” story. You’ll also see rare calcite formations like helictites, shields, and spherical stalactites.
Crystal Dome Cavern Tour – 30-40 minutes
The Crystal Dome tour takes you 110 feet below the surface and is a more strenuous tour than the Mystic Cavern tour. This untouched cavern was first opened to the public in 1982. It features a dome, the fantastic “Crystal Bell”, that is nearly 70 feet – 8 stories! – tall. It and the pure white calcite dripstone formations within make this cavern a photographer’s dream.
341 Caverns Dr, Harrison, AR 72601
Cave tours at Mystic Caverns are led by trained guides who will fill you in on cave history and the formations you see. Both tours include some strenuous climbing and stairs that can be wet. The temperature inside the caves is a steady and comfortable 59 degrees Fahrenheit.
Touring caves can be fun but you don’t want to be stuck with accommodations that remind you of one! Whenever and wherever you are in Arkansas, do yourself a favor and book your accommodations at an Arkansas Bed and Breakfast. Arkansas B&B’s provide uncommonly comfortable amenities, nutritious breakfasts, and an insider’s knowledge of the area. Seriously – why would you stay anywhere else? Find your inn now and discover the B&B difference!