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Onondaga Cave State Park

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This is another post about our recent family trip to Missouri.

Today was supposed to be one of the nicest days of the week weather wise so we decided to head to Onondaga Cave State Park.  It featured a large cave that had a series of walkways installed, making it ideal for younger children.  Fortunately, Lockelan's bump from the day before had resolved into nothing more than a small bruise.

The drive was nearly 90 minutes from our resort.  The reviews were phenomenal so I was hopeful the experience would be well worth the trip.  Fortunately, the day did not disappoint.  

Onondaga Cave State Park Visitors Center

A large, open grassy area out front.

We setup a picnic lunch.

The kids preferred to wander and only graze on their food.

There were too many things to explore.

This is a bit of joke for my neighbors about my obsession with Amazon ordering.  The UPS truck is always at my house. Apparently it followed me to a park in a different state.

Photo op with the boys.

All three cooperated for a brief moment.

We prepared for the 2:00 cave tour only to discover that we would be the only people in attendance. The tour lasted 90 minutes and spanned over a mile. I’m not sure how to describe the experience because there aren't words to do it justice. The cave itself was incredible. It boasts one of the widest ranges of formations. The entire path was a paved walkway with sturdy metal railing. Never once was I concerned about the children’s safety. Each section had a control panel that allowed our tour guide to light up various areas. I can’t fathom the resources it must have taken to create the experience.

Both William and Lockelan were a little apprehensive as we entered. It was amazing how quickly they both warmed up to the experience. Lockelan spent the entire tour in the Ergo on Matt’s back which turned out to be the perfect arrangement for him. He would sing and talk along the way and enjoyed hearing the echos.

We were all in awe of the beauty on the tour. I did my best to take photos despite the darkness. We entered one cavern that was so large it would hold an entire football field. I could sense my insignificance. There were numerous small caverns and pathways off the official walkway. I would have loved to explore those areas on my own. Despite the long walk for little legs, there wasn't a single complaint. In fact, everyone was disappointed when the tour ended.

You can click on the photos to see larger images.

Posing in front of the twins.

Here you can see the metal railing along the walkway.

In addition to the tour, there were some wonderful exhibits in the lobby.  There was also a learning classroom with a number of activities designed for young children.  I was taken by the gift shop which held an impressive variety of nature themed items at extremely reasonable prices.  I purchased a number of mineral and fossil sets for the classroom as well as a handful of nature guidebooks.  William was particularly excited by a small box of shark teeth.

An explore-by-touch area in the kid's classroom.
A full map of the cave.
After the main attraction, we decided to follow one of the trails.  William used his color swatches to match various colors in nature while Elora spent her time on the trail taking photos with her camera.  Lockelan was content to sit down every few feet and eat rocks.  The exhaustion hit all of us about halfway through the journey so we turned around and headed back.  Since it was already late in the day we decided to start the trip home.  As we loaded the car, William had a complete melt down begging us to see the cave again.  I’ll admit that I was a bit elated to know he enjoyed it that much.

The Blue Heron Trail

This water flows from the cave.

Some of the wonderful things I purchased at the gift shop.  I got a number of fossils and mineral samples. 

I love these cards!  They show the plants, fossils and animal tracks that you are likely to find in Missouri.

The rest of the evening was fairly straight forward.  I made dinner and everyone tried to unwind.  The weather forecast predicted storms so we planned to visit the Science Museum next.
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