Cave Spring Historic Site & Nature Center

Useful Information

Location: 8701 E. Gregory Blvd., Kansas City, MO. Southeast Kansas City in Jackson County.
Open: Trails: all year daily.
Nature Center: Tue-Sat 10-16.
Fee: Adults USD 2, Children USD 1 (suggested donations). [2006]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: none, bring torch
Guided tours:
Address: Cave Spring Historic Site & Nature Center, 8701 E. Gregory Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64133-6351, Tel: +1-816-358-2283. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1836 Farmer Archibald Rice from Levasy, Mo. lived on the land and constructed the house.
1844 purchased by Jesse Barnes.
1975 Cave Spring Association, a not-for-profit organization, founded.
1978 site placed on the National Register of Historic Places.


Cave Spring Historic Site & Nature Center is called an urban nature center, which means it is located in the middle of Kansas City, between residential zones, gulf courses and opposite a cemetry which is much bigger. The small park has only an area of 15 ha, but it offers a wildlife pond habitat, a butterfly garden, and a small cave. There is a nature center with changing exhibits, a picnic area, and hiking trails.

The historic part of the park is based on an original Indian trading trail called the Osage Trace. The Osage, Sac, Kansa and the Fox stayed at the place with its spring. After Missouri became a state in 1821 the trail became an important trading route. The Oregon and Santa Fe Trails met here and more than $90 million was traded between 1821 and 1872. The place with its cave was an important overnight resting place for traders and settlers. The spring was an important source of fresh water.

During the 1840's the area was owned and farmed by the Barnes family. In the 1930's, the area was a golfers club called Cave Spring Club. Later the spring was damed and formed two small lakes. A second cave with spring was discovered in 1948 during the construction of a church at the corner of Gregory and Blue Ridge. The area is today the church parking lot and the spring is diverted. But this influenced also the other cave spring and was the reason for the first exploration of the cave by KU scientists. In 1951, after a flood, the spring was used as a source of fresh water. Today, because of the intensive land use around, water is no longer drinkable.