Marvel Cave is a National Natural Landmark located just west of Branson, Missouri, on top of Roark Mountain in Stone County. The cave was known by the Osage Indians in the early 16th century, after a tribe member fell through the cave's main entrance, a sinkhole.
Currently there are two different tours offered. The Traditional Tour, and the Lantern Tour.
The first guided tours in the cave were in 1894 run by the Lynches. They lasted 8 hours and were by candle or lantern. Visitors climbed through the sink hole on a 100 feet (30 m) ladder down to the top of the pile. Then you were instructed to slide down the pile to the bottom. You received a candle to guide your way. The tours included the Egyptian Room (now the Shoe Room), the Lakes Passage, and you saw formations such as the Great White Throne (now the Liberty Bell), and the Spring Room Sentinel (now just the Sentinel). After the Hershends started tours in 1950, they removed the wooden stairs, and added concrete stairs and paths through the cave. Current tours last for about an hour, and are limited to 60 people.
In 2006, Marvel Cave started offering The Lantern Light Tour. In this tour the electric lights are turned off in the cave and lanterns are given to each member of the tour. Unlike the regular tours which are free, this tour costs $10, and is limited to 20 people. The tour has been extended into the Mammoth Room, making it the first tour to incorporate this room in more than fifty years. One is also able to see both the summer and fall sections if the Waterfall Room is not flooded. The tour lasts about an hour and a half. The guide focuses on the history and folklore of the cave and is able to explain more information about the cave due to the small group setting of the tour.
Wild Cave Tours
The cave is working on a new trail where guests can go on a "wild" cave tour.
Rooms and Passages
- The Cathedral Room is one of the largest cave entrance rooms found in North America. The room measures 204 feet (62 m) high, 225 feet (69 m) wide, and 411 feet (125 m) feet long. Entrance to the cave is made through a sink hole which is 94’ deep.
- The Mammoth Room is where the majority of the bats choose to hibernate. In 1869 Spanish style ladders, small trees with notches carved in them, were found in the Mammoth Room by Henry Taylor Blow, one of the first known explorers of the cave.
- The Dungeon is a passage located next to the Cathedral Room. The entrance can be made through a small crevice located 80 feet (24 m) below the sinkhole entrance. Blood like stains cover the walls due to the abundance of iron oxide, which led some early cave guides to claim the Dungeon Passage a torture place of the Spanish Explorers. The passage has an entrance through the Mammoth Room as well.
- The Lakes Passage is past the Mammoth Room and contains two lakes named Genevieve and Miriam, after the daughters of William Lynch. Divers have explored the lakes and have found several under water passages. The deepest they went was around 110 feet (34 m).
- The Spring Room A small crevice behind a tall column known as the Sentinel lies the Spring Room. The room is covered in orange calcite and contains several waterfalls that looks and sounds like rain fall. Legends have spread about the water being magical, possibly the Fountain of Youth.
- Serpentine Passage connects the Cathedral Room and the Egyptian Room. The route displays perfectly the way that water used to flow through the cave passages.