10km south of Freedom, Hwy 50.
All year daily 8-17, last tour 16, tours hourly on the hour.
Spelunking: APR to SEP daily.
Adults USD 8, Children (6-12) USD 5, Children (0-5) free, Seniors (62+) USD 6.
Spelunking: per Person USD 5.
|Classification:||Gypsum Cave, Permian Blaine Formation.|
|Guided tours:||D=60min, L=800m, T=10°C.|
|Bibliography:||Arthur J. Myers, Arrellm. Gibson, Bryan P. Glass, and Carol R. Patrick (1994): Guide to Alabaster Cavern and Woodward County, Oklahoma [revised edition]. Guidebook 15 of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, 38 pages, 41 figures. 1969; 7th printing, 1994. $1.00.|
Alabaster Caverns State Park, Route 1, Box 32, Freedom, OK 73842-9618, Tel: +1-580-621-3381, Fax: +1-580-621-3572,
Toll Free in US 1-800-654-8240, in Oklahoma City 405-521-2464
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|1898||first recorded exploration.|
|1939||the land was bought by Charles Grass.|
|1953||Grass sold the land to the state of Oklahoma for $34,000.|
|JUN-2004||closed for the installation of a new lighting system.|
This is one of the most unusual show caves of the United States, as it is the only gypsum cave open to the public in the country!
Gypsum caves are typically rather big, and so the first room of Alabaster Caverns has 60m in diameter and is 23m high. The tour leads from the entrance in a rock cliff, overlooking a canyon, through huge rooms to the ground of a sinkhole, where the roof of the cave collapsed.
Being a gypsum cave, Alabaster Caverns has no formations as known from limestone caves. The special feature of this cave are selenite crystals, the crystallized form of gypsum, which are rather impressive. The walls are covered with this glass-like mineral up to 50 cm thick, and single crystals of 35cm length are found.
The walls are formed of white and pink gypsum as well as deposits of so-called black alabaster. This dark form of gypsum is actually anhydrite, which is the waterless version of gypsum. The lack of water inside of the crystal results in heigher weight and different optical properties, especially the dark appearance. The rock is actually not black or dark, it is transparent, and as a result light falling on its surface is not reflected, but shines through the crystal. As a result it appears dark due to the lack of reflection.
There are four small caves in the park with a length between 150m and 500m which are used for wild caving tours. One of them is Owl Cave with its impressive entrance. The caves are, what might be called beginner caves, there is no climbing gear required and the caves are rather small. This are self guided spelunking trips, the park charges a small fee and there are several requirements which must be met. Visitors must be in groups of at least three people and have appropriate caving gear including helmet and head lamp. Those caves are open between April and September only, the rest of the year the caves are reserved to the bats. Several species of bats are living in the caves all year, and even more use the caves as a place to roost during their migrations.
Gypsum is used in the manufacture of wallboard and plasters. Oklahoma is the largest producer of gypsum in the United States, it is mined from the Blaine Formation, which was deposited more than 215Ma ago during the Perm in a shallow inland sea. The best places to see the gypsum are Roman Nose State Park and Glass Mountains State Park, both located along the Blaine escarpment.