Blanchard Springs Caverns
Blanchard Springs Caverns is a cave system in northwest Arkansas. Rain seeping into the Ozark Mountains wore holes in the limestone rock. Water continues to shape Blanchard Springs Caverns. There were two original entrances to the cave. One was through a 70-foot shaft with vertical sides. The other was underwater against the flow of water.
The Caverns were well known to the Osage and other Native Americans. Cane and wooden torches were used by tribal members to light the cave. The burnt out torches were left behind, where later explorers found them. The cave reflects how the Osage see the world. The Osage consider places like this important and sacred. Osages performed ceremonies there many times. They would still be performed today if we hadn’t been forced to move away.
In the 1960s, the Forest Service turned the cave into a tourist destination. The Osage were not asked if this was okay. The Forest Service punched a hole in one part of the cave for an elevator. Paved paths with lights were added to many areas of the cave. The Mountain View Chamber of Commerce began hosting Caroling in the Cave each Christmas.
Blanchard Springs Caverns is managed by Ozark-St. Francis National Forest. The Osage have asked many times for public use of this sacred location to stop. Ozark-St. Francis National Forest continues to allow tourists in. This is like building a waterslide in a church. Now they want to fix parts of the cave that they broke so tourists can continue to go into the cave. Ozark-St. Francis National Forest will not close the cave for the Osage. The Forest Service is willing to protect the bats that live there, but not the spiritual connection of the Osage people.
What You Can Do
Let the people below know that Blanchard Springs Caverns should not be used as a tourist attraction. Remember that kindness is convincing. Share this webpage with your friends and family.
State of Arkansas
Governor Asa Hutchinson
500 Woodlane Avenue
State Capitol Room 250
Little Rock, AR 72201
Phone: (501) 682-2345
Online contact form: https://governor.arkansas.gov/online-services/contact-us/
Ozark-St. Francis National Forests
Forest Supervisor: Lori Wood
Phone: (479) 964-7200
Mountain View Chamber of Commerce (hosts of Caroling in the Cave)
President: Michelle Atchison
Executive Director: Rianna Kendrick
109 N Peabody Ave
Mountain View, AR 72560
Phone: (870) 269-8068