Arkansas is riddled with naturally occurring caves. They can be found all over the state. Some are big and some are small but all of them are fascinating to those of us who like caves. If you consider yourself a cave lover, you won’t want to miss a chance to explore one of Arkansas’ the oldest show caves, Onyx Cave.
Arkansas’ Oldest Show Cave
Onyx Cave was discovered in 1891 and was turned into a show cave in 1893.
The cave got its name from the number of flowstone formations found inside of it. Flowstone, once commonly referred to as “cave onyx,” is a smooth, sheetlike formation found in caves. Minerals deposited by flowing water over thousands of years make up the weird shapes. Flowstone typically contains calcite or other carbonate minerals, not onyx. Despite this, numerous caves around the country have “onyx” in their names from the flowstone found within.
In the early days, show caves were not treated with the same respect and understanding that they are today. Back then, folks didn’t think twice about reaching out and snapping off a souvenir or two during their visit to show the folks back home. I guess they never considered how many people might do the same after them, or how many millennia their little keepsake took to be made – much less replaced.
As one of the state’s oldest show caves, Onyx has seen lots of unthinking destruction, especially true back in the early days. Despite this, the cavern retains its subterranean charm and is remains visit-worthy.
Touring the Cave
Visitors enjoy tours of the cave guided by audio headset. The recording presents an overview of the cave and area history, along with information on the cave’s many chambers, formations, and wildlife.
The cave’s trails are paved, well lit, and mostly level. Steps and handrails are provided where necessary. As with virtually all caves, Onyx sits at an average temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit (13.8 degrees Celsius) all year round. Visitors should dress appropriately.
Outside of cave tours, visitors may also pan for semi-precious gems, try their hand at axe throwing, enjoy snacks, and more.
Onyx Cave Park
338 Onyx Cave Lane, Eureka Springs, AR 72632
Just like the rest of Arkansas, there is a lot to see and do in the Eureka Springs area. Thorncrown Chapel, Christ of the Ozarks and The Great Passion Play, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge, Quigley’s Castle, and too much more to list here. Not to mention lovely Eureka Springs, itself, which is home to numerous concerts and festivals throughout the year.
The area is also home to a number of excellent Arkansas bed and breakfast inns. Wherever you are in Arkansas, you can rest assured that, somewhere nearby, there’s an Arkansas inn with a room just for you.