The kids are back to school, the temperatures are feeling crisp at night and tolerable during the day, and the leaves are already hinting at the deep oranges and reds that we’ll soon be enjoying. For many of us, it’s our favorite time of the year. It’s perhaps the best time of year to visit Stark Caverns. It’s beautiful and because there are fewer tourists, it’s more likely you’ll be part of a smaller tour group and have fewer people to battle for one of our comfortable Amish rockers on the porch. The sluice is still up and running for the fall and our geode cracker isn’t put away for the winter yet.

And, it’s the perfect time for school group visits, business meetings, family events, or just a quiet visit with nature. For those of you who didn’t want to brave the crowds in the summer to try out our new Blacklight Tour, this is a great time of year to try it.

Here’s what you have to look forward to this fall at Stark Caverns:

Blacklight Tour

If you’re looking for something unique and adventurous to do this fall, come join us for a Blacklight Tour. It’s your chance to safely explore the unlit cave with your specially trained guide and see the incredible myriad colors hidden in our rocks and minerals, visible only with blacklight. We provide guests with a protective helmet and googles and each carries an imported high-power long-wave blacklight flashlight. This is considered a specialty tour with separate pricing from our standard tour. Many of our guests choose to make an afternoon of it purchasing the two-tour package which includes both the standard tour and Blacklight Tour. You must call ahead to reserve a Blacklight tour spot. Tours are given at 5:15 pm on the days they are offered.

Gemstone and Fossil Sluicing, Geode Cracking

There’s nothing like the thrill of finding a hidden treasure. We offer two opportunities for you to satisfy this thrill – the Stark Caverns sluice, where you purchase a bag of mining rough and sift out the sand in running water to reveal your treasures, and our do-it-yourself geode cracker where you select a medium or extra-large geode, place it in the cracking tool (a massive underground pipe cutter), tighten the chain around it, and squeeze until your geode cracks in half to reveal its crystalline center.

Souvenir Photo

Many of our guests asked us to offer souvenir photos from inside the cave. We now have a state-of-the-art photo system in place that allows us to take pictures inside the cave or in front of the sluice tower, click a button, and have your photo print out in the Visitor Center as you walk toward the building. Photos are $10 each.

Haunted Happenings

We are pleased to host our second annual Haunted Happenings event on October 26th and 27th. We’ve added a scarier haunted cave tour option on Saturday night the 26th with the family-friendly portion of the event on Sunday afternoon. Check out the News article for event details.

Camping in the Cave

We can sleep up to 40 in the cave in our patio area and offer a 1 or 2-night package. Call for details and availability. It’s an incredible experience for a youth group or a unique family adventure. You’ll have use of 2 camp fires and our clean restrooms.

Pond Improvements

If you visit during September, you’ll see us hard at work restoring our pond. It’s been an important part of the property since the early 1970s and was in need of an overhaul. We’ve drained it, taken out the several feet of silt and mud at the bottom, removed several old unused pipes, and then relined the bottom with the rich dense clay available at a nearby quarry. The dam wall was power-washed, cracks were filled, a sealant applied, and then a finishing top coat of paint was brushed on. We’ll redirect storm water flow from the pond to our pond overflow channel and then fill up the pond. Once this is all complete, we can stock the pond in anticipation of fishing sometime in the future. Our frogs, crayfish and turtles look forward to their new and improved sanctuary.

Festivals and Parades

We’ll be participating in several local festivals and parades this fall. Come visit us at the Eldon Turkey Festival, Versailles Apple Festival and the Osage Beach Fall Festival. We’ll have our 1949 Ford F1 truck in several of the parades as well.