Bat Bar

Lost Canyon Cave


Useful Information

Location: 1220 Ridgedale Rd, Ridgedale, MO 65739.
Interstate 65, 13 km south of Branson, exit Blue Eye, turn right at roundabout.
(36.530649, -93.253027)
Open: All year daily 9-16.
Museum: All year daily 10-19.
Holiday Light Tour: All year Thu-Sun 17-21.
[2023]
Fee: Adults USD 31-37, Children (4-11) USD 15.50-18.50, Children (0-3) free.
Price depends on weekday and season.
For exact price check online booking.
Parking USD 10.
[2023]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave SubterraneaCave Restaurant TopicCave Visits By Tram KarstKarren KarstStone Forests
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension:  
Guided tours: self guided, L=4 km, D=50 min.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: yes
Bibliography:  
Address: Bat Bar, 1220 Ridgedale Rd, Ridgedale, MO 65739.
Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail, 150 Top of the Rock Road, Ridgedale, MO 65739, Tel: +1-417-339-5306, Free: 800-225-6343.
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.

History

22-MAY-2015 sinkhole opens after heavy rains.
2019 Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail opened to the public.

Description

Bat Bar is, as the name suggests, a bar with bats, which is a result of the fact that it is located inside a natural cave. We really had difficulties to classify this venue, as it is neither a show cave nor a cave bar, actually it is nature trail. The official name is Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail, which says all and nothing. The site is developed with a narrow road suitable for golf carts, visitors get a cart and drive along this road in a loop. That's obviously a result of the fact that it developed from the nearby golf course.

One stop on the golf cart loop is the bar, which is located inside a Lost Canyon Cave. In other words, it's a self-guided drive through a park and a cave with an underground bar. For obvious reasons it's allowed to drive and drink, which is strange for the U.S.A., but its necessary to sign a waiver first, which is typical for the U.S.A.. But let's start at the beginning with a description.

Big Cedar Lodge is a family friendly lodge in the hills south of Branson. This whole area around the artificial Table Rock Lake is a popular vacation area with numerous lodges, jetties, and lake side houses. The area is part of the Ozarks and karstified, there are several show caves nearby. The lodge was created by Johnny Morris, who was inspired by his own childhood memories at Table Rock Lake. It is surrounded by numerous attractions which are intended as outdoor recreation possibilities for the guests. This includes swimming pools and an infinity pool called Cedar Creek Spa, a fitness center, a golf course named Big Cedar Golf, a clay shooting range, go-cart races, and boat trips on the lake. The Top of the Rock Ozark Heritage Preserve extends over the bluff and includes the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail and the Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum.

Quite spectacular is a sinkhole which opened up on 22-MAY-2015 after heavy rains. The whole area was originally used by the golf course. Since 2002 the golf course was redesigned and one part after the other was remodeled. The part where Fruit Farm Road crossed the site was transformed into a huge artificial lake, shaped like a Y and 200 m long and 60 m wide. The road was completely removed on this side of the Interstate and later replaced by the private roads Top of the Rock Road and Ridgedale Road. It's never a good idea to create artificial lakes in a karst area, the most harmless result is, that the water vanishes underground through cracks in the rock. In this case the water slowly removed a plug in a gravel filled shaft and at some point the lake vanished underground very quickly, an artificially triggered sinkhole. But instead of filling it in, it was actually opened up by removing the loose sediment. The idea was to find an entrance to the John Ellis Cave. For this purpose 16,000 truckloads of gravel were removed and revealed a fantastic landscape of karren and shafts, created by the solution of limestone along cracks in the rock. The limestone has horizontal layers, which creates the extraordinary forms. The sinkhole was called Cathedral of Nature, and will be integrated in the Natur Trail.

The Top of the Rock Lost Canyon and Nature Trail is a route through the hills and across four gorges. The loop is 4 km long, but the sinkhole area is currently not part of it. It starts at the Lodge, runs along the sinkhole area, crosses the first gorge, in the second enters the cave bar, then across a bridge returns to the first gorge on a lower level and return through two more gorges to the lodge. Johnny Morris was spelunking in the Lost Canyon Cave as a young man, hunting for mushrooms. He bought the land and developed the cave as a part of the so-called Nature Trail. All the gorges are quite exceptional and have karst specific specialties, and with the towering limestone columns with the horizontal bedding, they look quite interesting. The first gorge is crossed in the upper part and again on the way back in the lower part. Its river starts at a karst spring right at the park entrance, a spectacular gate house with four lanes. It is the place where the road leaves a tunnel, so it's easy to find. The second gorge forms a sort of escarpment with several karst springs at its foot. The cave is a karst cave with a cave river, which forms waterfalls inside, forms one of the springs, and then more waterfalls outside. Here is a parking lot for those who wish to take some pictures. After the parking lot the trail enters the cave, the bar is right after the entrance on the right side. It's like a drive-through counter, which makes the bar a little uncomfortable, and you have to stay in your golf cart while drinking as there are no seats or tables. If there are more visitors a long traffic jam forms, and we recommend to carefully use the left lane and skip the bar. After all it has the charme of a McDonald's drive-in. After the bar there is a loop through the cave and across the cave river, where you can see the waterfall. Back outside the road descends along the cliff and crosses back on the other side of the river over a bridge. This river and the river from the next gorge meet at the bottom of the valley forming a lake, which again has no outflow on the surface. The third gorge is dry, there is no river, but nevertheless fine rock formations. The last gorge is a sort of blind valley, probably a sort of doline. The river appears on the eastern end in a karst spring, flows down some waterfalls, is crossed twice by the trail, and then flows into a small lake which drains underground.

The Ancient Ozarks Natural History Museum shows the nature of the area with skeletons of extinct animals and dioramas. It also has a vast collection of Ancient American artifacts. There is an exhibition of wild west relic, for example Annie Oakley's shotgun, plane wagons, and items of daily life. Another exhibition is about the American Civil War, with uniforms, weapons and even a cannon. One highlight is Abraham Lincoln's desk and some personal items.