Onondaga Cave State Park
Onondaga Cave State Park
4.5
About
Descend into the depths of Onondaga Cave State Park and drop into a world of wonder: towering stalagmites, dripping stalactites, and active flowstones help make the cave a National Natural Landmark and illustrate why Missouri is often called “The Cave State.” Visitors can take guided tours into the underground wonderland. But if you prefer the surface, the park’s Vilander Bluff Natural Area provides a panoramic view of the Meramec River. Easy access to the Meramec River allows visitors to canoe or fish in a bucolic setting.
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4.5
4.5 of 5 bubbles86 reviews
Excellent
58
Very good
22
Average
4
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1
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1

Evelyn H
Saint Louis, MO116 contributions
1.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2023 • Family
A few pretty spots but it was dark inside could hardly see anything. Please believe me, this is very very strenuous. 90 minutes of walking down deep in a dark cave on very slippery surfaces to not see anything spectacular. Meremac cave is 100 times better. Bad knee or back- DONT GO !!!!!!!!!!! Everyone of the 20+ caves we have been in was better than this! People struggled to climb back up and out!
Written August 6, 2023
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Cryptic_Tourist
Saint Louis, MO983 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Nov 2022 • Couples
Just came here for hiking, no cave since the visitor center was closed. We chose to the the Deer Run Trail which is blazed in green and very well marked. I would say it’s an easy/moderate trail. 2.25 miles and a few hundred feet of elevation gain. If you do the trail counter-clockwise you’ll see the most boring part first and then see the River at the end. That’s what we did, you could have easily done just a small portion if you just want to see the River overlook.

There’s a large parking lot and bathrooms that were very clean. I did like the hike, but it was just your typical Missouri hike. I would return to see the cave for sure.
Written November 12, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

krichardsonx3
Poplar Bluff, MO1 contribution
5.0 of 5 bubbles
May 2013
The caves were beautiful.
A few tips for the cave tour which is a "must see" if you are visiting the park. The onondaga cave tour is appx 90 minutes. Make sure you and little ones have gotten a drink and used restrooms before the tour starts as their is no turning back once started and no facilities inside. The cave trail has some very steep inclines and some are a bit slick. Make certain you have on a good pair of hiking or tennis shoes that have good traction. It is a little chilly in the cave and you are likely to get a few water droplets on your head during the tour, a light wind jacket will make things more comfortable!
Written May 28, 2013
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

PainKiller_24518
Cuba, MO62 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Jan 2018 • Family
This park is relatively close to my home, so I visit multiple times throughout the year. Onondaga Cave is the obvious centerpiece of the park, but the trails looping through the hills and rock formations are spectacular. The cave has been covered in specific reviews, so I'll concentrate on the remainder of the park.

The park contains the cave, visitor center, campground, picnic areas, boat ramp, canoe launch, and trail network. The visitor center contains the ticket desk for the cave tours and a small nature museum which covers the history and ecology of the cave. Be sure to check out the seismograph station just inside the entrance for information on earthquake activity around the midwest...very interesting! Restrooms and drinking fountains are available here as well. Check out the schedules for tours of Cathedral Cave in the park while you're here as well.

The campground is located well off the main access road, so it is relatively quiet. Basic camping facilities exist...a playground, fire pits, posts for camping lanterns, etc. An amphitheatre is centrally located for educational programs throughout the warmer months. The swimming area along the Meramec River is a large spacious gravel bar with plenty of area for families to enjoy the river without feeling crowded most of the time. The campground is severely effected by seasonal flooding, however. Check the weather before visiting since even the main access road can be closed on short notice.

Picnic areas are located on both sides of the access road, and a pavilion is available near the visitor center. At the time of this review, the large pavilion along the campground access road has been taken down due to damage from floods. Each picnic site is well shaded and most are within an easy stroll down to the riverside. Trash cans, restrooms, and fire pits/bbq pits are available.

The boat ramp is a concrete slab extending down into the Meramec River near the Cave Road Bridge. This area contains pit style toilets and the parking is somewhat limited. This area can get fairly busy during the weekends. The canoe launch is a gravel ramp across Cave Road from the boat ramp area. It consists of a gravel ramp which extends into the river downstream of the bridge. A pit toilet is available here as well. Careful here, the mud can be slippery!

The trail network at this State Park is spectacular! Three main trails are well marked, and all intersect near the campground entrance. One loops through the hillsides above the cave and offers a good hike over high wooded hills above the visitor center. Another covers the ridgelines near the the campground and follows the limestone bluffs above the Meramec River which allows for some awe inspiring views. The third is a handicapped friendly trail which follows an oxbow lake from the visitor center to the cave's natural entrance (check out the waterfall and mill pool here!) and ends near the campground entrance. The water here is crystal clear and is full of wildlife and birds. The trail is lined with interesting rock formations and ruins from the previous commercial activity at the cave in the early to mid 1900's.

The activity at the park can be quite busy during the summer months, but don't overlook this park during the cooler fall and winter months. The leafless trees allow for a clearer view of the landscapes and wildlife. These are actually my favorite times to visit! Give this park a shot. It's not far off I-44 and an easy hour drive out of St. Louis.

Note: if you visit for the cave tour, take some long sleeved shirts or sweatshirts, even during the summer it is cool inside.
Written February 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Merle G
Oklahoma City, OK191 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2018 • Family
I really wanted to see this National Natural Treasure while our family was on vacation and was relieved that I could manage it physically. I took my lightweight folding stool so I (Grandma) could sit at each stopping place to observe and listen to the guide. We had a fairly long wait--but the building has a little museum, restrooms, a nice gift shop, and places to sit. We bundled up our 6 and 7 year-olds, but the 11-year-old thought the cold felt great. We had wisely left the two youngest grandchildren back at the pool with their parents. Another family in our tour group had to deal with a very unhappy small child unable to walk the whole way. There are good walkways and a lot of ramps in the tour--some very steep ones going down, but there are solid handrails and I managed OK in between those chances to sit. There is a final climb to and descent from certain rooms above--which was no problem for the others, but we grandparents took advantage of the benches to wait for them while looking at a huge and gorgeous formation. Our son's family of four went on to do the tour of the unlighted Crystal cave on the same property carrying their own lights--bought as a "combo" tour--which they said was a good adventure. Great cave experiences all around.
Written August 1, 2018
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

SarahJ100100
Bremerton, WA110 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Sep 2014 • Solo
I thoroughly enjoyed the couple hours I was able to spend in Onondaga State Park. Even though I arrived at noon, I was the first person to come by that day for the cave tour, and the only person for that specific tour. I was able to get a private tour, and the guide spent more time than usual describing and showing different formations and aspects of the cave. I have visited many caves, and this one tops the list for being utterly breathtaking in its beauty. The sheer size and number of cave formations is astounding. I have yet to see so many different types of formations in one place. We spotted a couple bats in the cave (!), but the salamanders, fish, and frogs that can sometimes be seen were elusive. Visitors can also see the skeletal remains of a couple bears, fairly recent tracks from river otters, and salamander footprints along the pathway. After the tour was over, I took a leisurely walk along the trail that meanders to the old mill pond and back. The flowers were in bloom, the water was a beautiful shade of blue, and the birds were singing. (The mosquitoes were also in attack mode, but this is summer in Missouri.) Along the walk, I saw turtles, Canadian geese, ducks, and songbirds. Sadly, I had time constraints, or I would have spent even more time in the park. I will be coming back for their weekend only tours of Cathedral Cave.
Written September 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Schaabie
Highland Park, IL49 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Jul 2014
We arrived at the campground on Thursday, floated the river Friday and sat on lawn chairs in the water along the river bank Saturday to watch the rafters and canoers and kayakers go by. I suggest bringing water guns along. Probably floating not suitable on Saturday for younger children. It's a younger crazy crowd on Saturday floats which is probably true on most rivers in missouri. The campground only has electric hookups but bathrooms and shower house very clean. Campground hosts even deliver ice to your site if you like. We bought firewood on hwy H. Good price. Only downside is no cellular service but if you need to get connected, drive up the hill on Hwy H about a mile and you get service. Had a great time!!
Written July 16, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

mammatea
Saint Louis, MO179 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
We live about an hour away. Decided to take advantage of a particularly warm March day by taking my two daughters to this park for some fresh air! We just walked along the Blue Heron Trail and came across some wonderful finds. A beautiful small pond with crystal clear water, a waterfall, daffodil buds, bats in an old shaft, a turtle sunning himself on some logs, quartz rocks, etc. The trail is short, only .5 miles long so out and back we totalled a mile which was perfect for the girls. I want to return in the summer when the cave is open! We plan to do some tent camping(very nice campgrounds with a playground) and splash around in the river. I might even be able to get in a trail run on some of the longer trails. Sidenote: the visitors center was very nice. I loved browsing in their gift shop and the girls bought $2 mood rings as souvenirs. Great afternoon.
Written March 22, 2014
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

KenJay73
Perryville, MO3 contributions
5.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2012 • Friends
We have always enjoyed camping here. But the photos, I believe, are misleading. I'm pretty sure the photo with the walkway was taken at Johnson's Shut-Ins in Middlebrook, MO.
Written August 29, 2012
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

Warren C
Olathe, KS112 contributions
4.0 of 5 bubbles
Aug 2019
Tours leave about every half hour and last about 1 1/2hr. No restroom facilities in the cave.

Buy tickets (adults $15) in gift shop for your time entry. You will be watching a 10 min movie about cave and region.

Entering the cave is through an airlock door and pretty easy. The cave itself has no really small spaces and nothing that would cause you to get dirty. But there are areas of water on the path and some staircases that may be slippery. But our guide did a great job of indicating any potential issues.

You do stop every few minutes to look at a new formation and the guide explains what we are seeing, why it appears the way it does and some of the history of the cave (originally private, but now public with the state). We had younger children and older individuals on this tour and no one had any issue keeping together.

Had to pass other tours twice (once on the way in, and another as we were heading out) and there was plenty of room to pass by each other. No areas on tour that might become claustrophobic. Every area was wide open.
Written August 6, 2019
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews as part of our industry-leading trust & safety standards. Read our transparency report to learn more.

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