Squire Boone Caverns is a living cave with rushing streams that carry more than a million gallons of water through the cave and over rarely seen underground waterfalls. In fact, you’ll find the largest rimstone dams accessible to the public in the United States right here!
Stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone and more adorn the cavern walls, ceilings and floors in a natural wonder that has taken millions of years to create. You’ll walk about 1/3 of a mile through this living and growing ecosystem deep below the Earth’s surface and learn how its passageways were slowly formed over eons of time, even as dinosaurs roamed the earth!
The caverns stay a pleasant 54° F year-round – a jacket or sweater is recommended. The tour takes place along lighted, paved walkways and steel bridges and ends with a 73-step spiral staircase (not recommended for those with serious medical conditions).
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Cave vs. Cavern: The terms cave and cavern are not necessarily interchangeable. A cave is a natural underground cavity. A cavern is a connected system of caves and passages. Caves and Caverns are often found in the sides of cliffs and hills.
Spelunking: The act of exploring a cave or caverns.
Spelunker: A person who explores caves or caverns.
Cave Coral or Popcorn: Irregular clusters or rough knobs of crystalline calcium carbonate. They build on walls and existing formations as mineral-laden water seeps through the pores of the rocks to the outer surface, where it feeds the growing crystal faces. Less often, popcorn formations are caused by surface flow, splashing water or condensation.
Helictites: Perhaps the most delicate of cave formations, helictites take a myriad of forms that have been described as ribbons, saws, rods, butterflies, fishtails, hands, curly-fries and clumps of worms. They are contorted speleothems that seem to defy gravity. A helictite starts out as a tiny stalactite, but the direction of the end of the straw begins to wander, curve or twist like a corkscrew. Their shapes are the result of capillary pressure acting on tiny water droplets. Capillary action is the ability of a liquid to flow in narrow spaces without the assistance of, and in opposition to, external forces like gravity. Mineral-rich water flows through the central capillary channel with pressure strong enough to cause sideways or upward growth.
Rimstone dams (or gours): Calcite or other mineral barriers on cave floors. These dams are wall-shaped formations that impound small pounds of water or dam cave streams.
Flowstone: forms where films of water flow over walls, floors and formations, depositing sheets of calcium carbonate like icing. It forms in thin layers, but tends to become rounded as it gets thicker. Impurities in the calcite may give a variety of colors to these formations. The reddish areas in the photo were likely caused by iron.
Colums: Formed when stalactites and stalagmites grow together or when one of them grows all the way to floor or ceiling.
Draperies: Formed from drops of mineral-laden water trickle down the undersides of inclined ceilings, leaving deposits in lines which fold and curl as if they were drapes of fabric.
Stalactites: Formations that grow down from the ceiling and form as mineral layers are deposited by water flowing over the outside of soda straw formations. The word stalactitite is derives from the Greek word stalasso which means “to drip”. Stalactites form after the centers of the hollow soda straws become plugged. The photo shows stalactites forming on the ceiling of Squire Boone Caverns. Though they are small, it is possible they are hundreds of years old.
Stalagmites: Formations that grow up from the floor where mineral laden water drips from above. Stalagmites are often, but not always, found beneath stalactites. The have flat or rounded tops as compared to the carrot shaped stalactites.
Soda Straws: Thin-walled, hollow tubes about a quarter inch in diameter. They form as water runs through their centers and deposits ring of calcite around the tips of the formations.
Bats are very beneficial to Earth’s ecosystem. They consume vast amounts of insects which would otherwise cost farmers and foresters billions of dollars in lost crops every year. Some bats eat mosquitoes, which are known disease carriers. Bats also pollinate flowers and disperse seeds in forests and deserts.
Bat guano is an important nutrient source for cave life, containing hundreds of species of essential bacteria.
Some of these bacteria produce enzymes that could potentially be used to detoxify industrial wastes and produce gasohol and antibiotics.
Bats Are Mammals: Like humans, bats are mammals. They have hair and give birth to living young, feeding them on milk from mammary glands.
Bats Live a Long Time: Bats can live as long as 30 years in group colonies, but can’t live without them.
Bat Babies: Bats typically only have one baby (called a pup) each year.
Bats Are Bug Catchers: Most bats feed on insect pests such as mosquitoes, moths and beetles. One bat can eat as many as 1,000 insects in just one hour.
Bats Are Night Owls: They are nocturnal, flying and foraging for their food at night.
Bats Are Helpful: Bats found in tropical areas feed on fruit and nectar. These bats serve an important ecological role as seed dispersers and pollinators and many plant species depend almost entirely on bats for pollination.
Bats Are Diverse: There are more than 900 bat species worldwide.
Bats Are Precise: Each bat has its own, individual “voice” with which it can judge the size and distance of an object as fine as a human hair.
Where to Find Bats: Bats can be found living in trees, on cliff faces or in rock crevices; but, the vast majority of bats live in caves.
Bats Are One of a Kind: They are the only mammals that can fly.
Bats Have Hands: The bones in a bat’s wing are the same as the bones of the human arm and hand. The bat’s fingers are elongated and connected by a double membrane of skin, which forms the wings.
Bats Have Great Hearing: A bat’s sense of hearing is so sensitive it can hear the footsteps of a walking insect.
Bats Have Sonar: Echolocation is the mechanism bats used to find food and avoid flying into obstacles. They are able to emit and hear noises too high for the human ear to distinguish. The sound waves bounce off objects and back to the bat’s keen ears, enabling it to locate, identify and capture moving prey in the dark.
Bats Are Blind: Most bats can see as well as humans. Many bats have eyesight that is adapted to low-light conditions, much like cats.
Bats Get Tangled In People’s Hair: Their built-in sonar allows bats to accurately fly with great speed through total darkness, avoiding objects larger than themselves, including humans. If a bat swoops toward you, it’s probably after a mosquito hovering just above you.
Bats are Just Flying Mice: Bats are not flying mice; they are not even remotely related to rodents. Bats are such unique animals that scientists have placed them in a group all their own, called Chiroptera, which means “hand-wing.” Bats are grouped with primates and lemurs in a grand order called Archonta.
Bats Suck Your Blood: Undoubtedly, the most famous bats are vampire bats, which are found in Latin American countries. These small bats feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals such as birds, horses and cattle, but they do not attack humans and they do not suck blood.
They obtain their meal by making a small incision in the skin of an animal with their razor-sharp teeth, then lapping up the blood that flows from the wound. The bat’s saliva contains a substance that actually helps numb the animal’s skin, so it’s likely the cut is hardly felt at all. Because vampire bats need only about two tablespoons of blood per day, the loss of blood to a prey animal is minimal.
Bats Carry Rabies: Bats do not “carry” the rabies virus, though they can contract the disease just like any other mammal. Less than one-half of one percent of all bats are infected with rabies, however, and rabid bats are seldom aggressive.
Death as a result of contact with a bat is extremely rare. That doesn’t mean it’s safe to touch or try to hold bats, as they might become frightened and bite in self-defense. Grounded bats are more likely to be sick, and should be approached only by professionals trained to handle them.
Bats Are Ugly and Dirty: Most bats have very cute faces, and some even resemble deer, rabbits, and little Chihuahuas. Like cats, bats spend an enormous amount of time grooming their fur, keeping it soft and silky.