I have generally sworn off taking cave tours, as so many of them are a waste of time an money, and you don't feel that you are seeing a cave as much as a spectacular light show. After hearing recommendations from fellow travelers in the area, we decided to give Blanchard Springs Caverns a shot, and were pleased we did so. It has beautiful formations, not the most spectacular we have seen, and the tour guide was exceptionally knowledgable. We felt that we were viewing nature, not an artificial light show.
There are three tours available. We took the Dripstone Trail through the upper level of the caverns and the easiest. The longer and more strenuous Discovery Trail explores the middle level. As we were entering the caverns we met a small group emerging from the Wild Cave Tour. They wore helmets with lights, carried flashlights and other spelunking equipment. They really get to explore a cave! Sounds like great fun.
Additional cave photos are (will be) shown in a travelogue.
Who needs a man-made pool when you have a cool, clear gravel-bottomed stream like this in which to swim? This is a marvelous way to laze away a summer's afternoon. At this location there are shelter houses for picnics, restrooms, and a concrete parking lot.
Whether you see it by car, on foot, or bicycle, take time to vew the Ozark Mountain scenery, and enjoy some time of quiet solitude. This view is of North Sylamore Creek. The water is so clear, you can watch the trout swimming.
Pack up your cooler with picnic fixin's and enjoy the outdoors at some of the nice picnic grounds in the area. There is a $3 charge to use the grounds unless you have purchased tickets to view the caverns, in which case it is free.
Favorite Dish: Pick up some fresh fruit (in season) from farmers' stands.
I am reporting what I saw - not what I did. There are a number of hiking trails that appear to be well-marked. Park guides recommend the North Sylamore Hiking Trail, 15 miles in length along the creek. Bikes are not permitted on this trail.
Mountain bikers have large selection of back roads to travel, as well as a new Mountain Bike Trail under construction (maybe finished by now.)
There is excellent trout fishing at Mirror Lake, and a number of places to swim.