Visiting War Eagle Cavern has been on my to-do list for years and was finally able to cross it off recently, so I'm challenging you to do the same! Visiting War Eagle Cavern is coming in at #14 on the 100 Things To Do in Rogers list. This activity is great for people of all ages and is wheelchair and stroller friendly!
War Eagle Cavern features a beautiful natural entrance right along the shores of Beaver Lake. We took the 60 minute guided walking tour thorugh the cave, complete with hibernating bats, panned for gems and did some hiking around the lake. It was a great way to spend a lovely spring day.
War Eagle Cavern has only been open to the public since 1978, but the cave has been around for millions of years. According to our guide, Indians inhabited the cave hundreds of years before the first settlers came to the area. The availability of fresh water from the underground spring that flows through the cave made this an ideal home for many families during the Great Depression as well.
Touring the Cavern
The tour started by the gift shop, or trading post as they call it. We walked along a paved path along the bluffs of Beaver Lake and took in a spectacular view at Eagle Point, which is a 40 foot high lookout over the cove. In this same area is "fossil rock" which was a hit with my boys. You could see all sorts creature outlines in the huge rock. Once you make it to the opening of the cavern, you feel a sudden drop in temperature, which felt great on the warm, sunny day we visited. The cave is about 58 degrees year-round, so you might want to bring a light jacket if you get cold quickly.
Following the easy, wide open pathways along the edges of the stream flowing throughout the cavern (we had friends pushing a stroller through the cave and didn't have any problems), our guide lead the way through huge rooms, explaining the incredible “domes” and other formations and relating entertaining stories of warriors, robbers, moonshiners, squatters and partiers who used the cavern over the years. We were able to see stalagmites, stalactites and Arkansas crystals that had been forming for millions of years.
The half-mile tour includes an incredible view of the waterfall in the newly expanded rim stone dam room. The Crystal Hallway leads to Mirror Lake and the passages beyond. Just make sure you watch your head and don't run into "headache rock". If you are adventurous and want to go beyond Mirror Lake (where the public tour ends), you can sign up for a Spelunker Tour. This mildly strenuous tour is about three hours long. You will most-likely get to see huge colonies of bats and climb through small passage ways, which means you will be muddy and wet. My 7 year old wants to sign up as soon as tours start in July. I'm thinking this might be a great father-son adventure.
War Eagle Cavern is home to over 75,000 bats! The two main species that inhabit the cave are the eastern pipestrelle bat and the gray bat. The most commonly seen bat is the small eastern pipestrelle (as seen in the picture). These small bats spend all year in the cavern, using the ceiling as a roost during the day in the summer months,and they hibernate in the cavern from November through March. There were a few out of hibernation when we were there and were flying around the cave. The tiny little bats are harmless and were really neat to see and watch.
The other common species is the gray bat. These bats are usually found further back in the cave, which wasn't accessible to those of us on the tour. The gray bats use War Eagle Cavern as a maternity roost during the spring months.Over 30,000 females roost in single colony, nurturing their babies until they are old enough to fly around the first of July. This is why the spelunking tours aren't offered until mid-summer.
Other War Eagle Fun
After exploring the cavern and hiking the trails, it was time for some gem panning. In the gift shop, you can buy a bag of dirt filled with treasures for kids to find using the War Eagle Mining Co. panning tools. We found lots of fools gold, amethyst, crystal points... about 20 different types of gemstones total. One bag was plenty for my two little guys and kept them busy for a while!
If you've worked up an appetite, you can either bring a picnic lunch to enjoy along a trail or at a picnic table or grab lunch at the Smoke Signal Cafe (only open during the summer though). There's also a Lost in the Woods Maze and a really unique gift shop if you're looking for something to commemorate your trip.
Directions and Hours
War Eagle Cavern is located one-half mile off Highway 12, midway between Eureka Springs and Rogers. You can actually get there by boat or car! Click here for directions. War Eagle Cavern is open Monday through Saturday, 9:30am to 5pm and Sunday from noon to 5pm. Tour tickets are $15 for adults, $9 for kids 4-9 and free for kids 3 and under. If you'd just like to hike or picnic, there is no cost. Hope you have as much fun as we did! Happy caving!
Have you visited any caves or tried the spelunking tour at War Eagle?
When not working as a public relations professional, Jennifer Haile can usually be found playing Star Wars or pirates with her two young boys. Jennifer, an avid runner, enjoys exploring the area on foot during her free time. She and her husband Charles love camping, hiking and calling the Hogs.