Onondaga Cave is one of Missouri’s natural treasures. The Missouri State Parks website has a lot of great information about the cave, and I’ll just share the links rather than trying to reword it!
You can find the main cave website here, with information on tour times and cost, and there’s a great summary of the history of the cave here.
There’s another cave in the park, Cathedral Cave. We didn’t take that tour because we were tired!
The campground is pretty typical. There are several basic sites near the check-in area, then opens into the area designed for RVs with electric hookups and water. This park doesn’t have sewer hookups. We, of course, tent camped in basic spot #17. It’s a nice paved spot, with one big tree that shades the back 1/4 of the site. It’s right next to a small parking lot that is used for programs at the amphitheater, and also for people who are visiting the Cathedral Cave tour.
The campground has a few different sections, with the lower part near the river being wide open, very few trees. It looks like it would be a great spot for a group to reserve adjacent sites for a family campout! There’s a cluster of sites around first shower house, which also has a wood lot, laundry room, and playground. The playground is a little bit dated and my kids complained about the mulch padding getting into their shoes, but they enjoyed it anyway. There is another shower house further down the road where the electric and water sites are, along with another wood lot. There are two campground hosts, both of whom were very friendly!
If you’re in the campground and up for a short walk, there’s a trail that starts at the parking lot and can be followed around a pond to the visitor’s center, where the main cave tour begins.
Map from Mo State Parks website
Photo Courtesy of Paul White ©2019
I didn’t personally take the cave tour but the husband and kids did. They enjoyed it quite a bit, and interestingly, they were the only three people on that particular run of the tour! It took about 90 minutes. I enjoyed some free wi-fi in the visitor’s center while they were touring the cave, because our campsite was in a complete dead zone. Even the moody 12-year-old found the cave tour interesting, and they all told me all about it when they got back to the car.
At the end of the tour, visitors are required to walk through a soapy padded area in order to help protect the bats in other caves, just in case – White Nose Syndrome is affecting Missouri bats, and being certain to clean off shoes before possibly encountering other caves or bats is one of the ways they’re trying to help prevent the spread. They were told that there used to be thousands of bats in that cave, and now there are fewer than 100.
Overall, this was a very enjoyable camping trip and we had a great time!