Rare jewels of nature fill this Missouri cave

Step inside Meramec Caverns

Are you looking for an adventure a little off the beaten path?

Maybe something that isn’t only beautiful but spectacular to look at?

Nichole Cartmell here with Heartland Weekend. I have the answer.

I recently traveled to Meramec Caverns, a nearly 5-mile cave system that naturally formed beneath the rolling hills of the Meramec Valley.

This place is seriously jaw-dropping.

What’s more: some of the mineral formations hidden within this cave are some of the rarest and largest creations in the world.


The Meramec Caverns have existed for the past 400 million years.

It continues to slowly form through deposits of limestone.

It was actually the first cave west of the Mississippi River to be explored by Europeans in the year 1722.

During the 18th century, the cave was used for extracting saltpeter for the manufacture of gunpowder.

Legend has it, infamous outlaw Jesse James used the cave as a hideout. In fact, my tour guide showed us artifacts found inside the cave that are traceable to the train robbery at Gadshill, Mo.

By the 1940s, the cave began drawing in droves of people looking to set their sights on some of nature’s jewels.

That included movie producers. A scene in the musical Tom Sawyer was actually filmed inside Meramec Caverns.

Must See

Today, you can explore all seven stories of the cave.

The Wine Room is home to one of the world’s rarest cave formations, what the tour guide called The Wine Table. The onyx table stands six feet high and is supported on three natural legs.

To me, it looked like a camel. You can be the judge of that.

I also loved the Ballroom. In earlier times it was used for square dances and other community events.

Today it’s still used for annual concerts.

Word to the wise: winter is a fabulous time to visit Meramec Caverns. We essentially had a private 2-hour tour.

The 2 and a half hour drive from the Heartland makes it perfect for a day trip.

CLICK HERE to plan your visit.