During our October 2022 Kansas and Missouri trip, Laura and I visited Fantastic Caverns, near Springfield, Missouri. And it definitely lived up to the name!
Discovered in 1862 and first explored in 1867, Fantastic Caverns is open to tourists. And we just happen to be tourists, so it was just our kind of thing. And in all of these photos, it is difficult to get a sense of scale of all of these rooms and rock formations. It really is best to see it for yourself. And no, they did not pay me to say that.
As with most caves, this one was filled with all shapes and sizes of stalagmites and stalactites. And there were all sorts of other rock formations as well, too. In the area in this photo, I almost expected a Fraggle to jump out at any minute, but they managed to keep themselves hidden from our sight. I am sure they were around there somewhere, though.
Fantastic Caverns is the only cave in North America that has a ride-thru tour. Visitors move through the cave on trams pulled by Jeeps. You can see the jeep pulling our tram at the left of this photo. It was a fun experience, and I felt like we got to see more of the cave than if we had been walking through it. The old stream bed that used to run through the cave was smoothed out to be the roadway for the vehicles. Or maybe the Doozers built it for the Fraggles.
I am always amazed by formations like this in caves. Water drips slowly, leaving minerals behind as the water drops evaporate. Little by little, these formations grow from those little bits of minerals in each water drop. So just imagine how long something like this, which is several feet tall, took to grow. God and his creation are so cool sometimes!
I took way too many photos in our tour to share them all here. So for this post, I selected some of my favorites, and I may share a few more over time. After our tour, we wandered around the gardens outside before hiking down along one of the paths (more on that another time). In the garden area, we found this photo opportunity Jeep, showing the type of vehicle that pulled us through the cave. Laura would have gotten in and pretended to drive, but the seat was still wet from the morning rain. But this will do just fine.
All the Signs
How did we find out about Fantastic Caverns? We saw their signs along the highway. Not just one or two signs, but lots of signs. That will get your attention after a while. And then the pictures on the signs of a Jeep driving through a cave helped out, too. It worked for us.
Sometimes, you have to work to get someone’s attention. And sometimes, you have to keep trying for a while before it works. For example, it took us several trips through Missouri on our way to Kansas before we finally were able to make time to see Fantastic Caverns. But they did not give up on us.
If there is something you are going after, you might have to work at it to get the attention you want, whether it is to get that job promotion, to make that new friend, to get visitors to your super-cool website, or whatever else it might be.
Keep trying. Don’t give up.
So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up. - Galatians 6:9
About the Photos
Yes, it was somewhat dark inside the cave. But not nearly as dark for us as it was for those first explorers in 1867 without flashlights of any kind. Thankfully, the lighting in the cave was rather good, even for getting a few photos.
For these photos, I had the camera set in aperture priority mode, where I set the aperture setting and ISO and let the camera choose the shutter speed. I used f/1.8 as my aperture setting, opening the lens as wide as it would go to let in as much light as possible. And I had the camera set to ISO 400. Some of the shutter speeds required a steady hand, such as the photo with the Jeep inside the cave, which ended up being a speed of 1/10th of a second. The others were more manageable, however. And the outdoor photo of Laura and the Jeep was an easy one.
I did brighten these up just a bit in processing, thankful that I had the Raw files to work on.
And yes, after all of those Kansas posts from our 2022 Kansas and Missouri Trip, I finally got around to posting some photos from Missouri, too.
Photo: Each photo is a single Raw exposure, processed in GIMP and Raw Therapee. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
Lens: Rokinon 35mm f/1.8
Date: October 10, 2022
Location: Springfield, Missouri