People are in love with Stark Caverns. All the folks that work here, of course, think it’s just about the coolest place ever (not a bad thing in summer as noted by one reviewer, Michael, who liked the two kinds of cool inside: the awesomeness and the temperature). But our visitors are falling in love with the place as well.
People love the stories we tell about Stark Caverns history which stretches back three to four thousand years with artifacts we’ve found from a Native American group known as the Early Woodland Indians. The history continues with stories of the Stark family who homesteaded this place in the 1800s, Confederate guerillas who used the caverns as a hideout during the Civil War, and the long and varied uses of the caverns in the last two centuries—everything from housing cattle to running a mule drawn carnival carousel, from roller skating in the Ballroom to running stills back at Moonshiner’s Dam. One modern member of the Stark family called our caverns “a trip back through time,” and several of our reviewers referred to Stark Caverns as a place of “fascinating history,” “a great cave with a lot of history,” and “an important part of Lake of the Ozarks history.” But Kelley has given us one of our best compliments: “Anyone can sign up to purchase property...it takes someone special to put in the time and mindfulness that it takes to serve as a caretaker for a piece of history. Your TLC and thoughtful restoration of this natural treasure will bring joy to so many.”
People love us for our history, but they also love us for the beauty of this place. As our reviewers tell us, at Stark Caverns you encounter the “mystical wonders of nature,” “a masterpiece of creation,” “a beautiful cave,” “a gem” and a “hidden treasure.” The word “beautiful” was used more than once to describe the caverns. And it is beautiful, inside and out. Inside are the wonders of intricate calcite formations like Onyx Falls, the Hanging Gardens, and the ribbon layers flowing from the ceiling in the Onyx Circle. Outside, the owners, tour guides, and construction crews are working to create a natural preserve with a pond that will eventually be stocked (there’s a snapping turtle or two living in their right now), patches of wild flowers, and a butterfly garden surrounding our picnic areas and campfire pit. Tiny frogs hop across our entrance path, butterflies flutter about the grounds, and hummingbirds flit about our feeders throughout the day.
Caves are beautiful places and old with history, but what makes a tour vivid to the imagination, what makes the history of the place really stand out, rests in the words and enthusiasm of a first-class tour guide. Stark Caverns has been fortunate enough to find such guides. Among our reviews have been several that singled out great experiences with Ross, Lee, Charlie (yours truly), and Tori. They use terms like “very knowledgeable,” and “great guide.” Alyce said we’re a “super friendly staff,” and Della called us “engaging, enthusiastic, organized and knowledgeable.”
But my favorite guide testimony comes from a personal conversation, rather than an online review. It was a Sunday, my day off, and I was dropping in at the end of the day to help close up. Tori had run down to the caverns entrance to shut the gate, but one woman in the tour she’d just finished had returned to pay Tori a compliment. She told me how much she appreciated her guide; she said, “Tori was…” and hesitated. “Really knows her stuff, doesn’t she,” I said. “And loves this place.” And then she answered: “That’s it, passionate. That’s the word I was looking for.” And, well, you can’t say it any better than that.
Stark Caverns is a beautiful place, deep beneath the earth but deeper with history, a place with passionate people who care about what we’re building here. Why not drop by for a visit?