1537 Co Rd 210, Eureka Springs.
From Eureka Springs follow Highway 62 towards Gateway, turn right at Inspiration Point.
15-MAR to NOV daily 9-18.
Closed Thanksgiving Day.
Adults USD 13.75, Children (6-17) USD 7.50, Children (0-5) free, Military Veterans USD 12.75, Seniors (65+) USD 12.75.
Groups (10+): Adults USD 11.75.
|Karst Spring Blue Spring Rock Shelter
|Ymax=1,664 l/s, Twater=12 °C.
|Blue Spring Heritage Center, 1537 Co Rd 210, Eureka Springs, AR 72632, Tel: +1-479-253-9244. E-mail:
|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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|Blue Spring becomes a respite and renewal site for the Cherokee people during their forced march from Echota, Georgia, the Trail of Tears.
|Blue Spring Mill built.
|garden created and opened as a tourist attraction.
|archaeological excavation by Robert G. Chenall and his students from the University of Arkansas.
|renamed Eureka Springs Gardens.
|Eureka Springs Gardens was transformed into the Blue Spring Heritage Center.
|divers from Aquatic Cave Xploration begin exploring the cave.
Blue Spring, the largest spring in northwest Arkansas, is obviously a karst spring. Almost all big springs are karst springs, and the "blue" in the name is a dead giveaway. The blue colour is a result of the high amount of dissolved limestone in the water, which filters all colours from the sunlight except blue. And of course of the enormous depth. So far divers from Aquatic Cave Xploration have descended 70 m but the bottom has not been reached yet. The started exploring the cave system in 2021 and have entered the only 1 m wide cave. Obviously the water emerges from a yet unexplored cave system which drains a yet unknown area, in other words the catchment area of the spring is unknown.
But here the weirdness actually starts. The spring is located in the spur of a meander of the White River, but the water of the spring is not connected to the river. The water originates from somewhere else and flows only 270 m from the spring into White River. The karst aquifer is obviously covered by an impermeable layer which keeps the river and the aquifer separated. However, theories that the water originates from the Pacific Northwest are ridiculous.
The cave system is quite difficult to explore. The great depth makes diving complicated and time-consuming. The cave is only 1 m wide, which is also a problem with full diving gear. Quite unique is the fact that the cave wall do not consist of rock, but of densely-packed white clay. When the cave narrows the divers have to remove the restriction very carefully. They already negotiated past a restriction at a depth of 15 m, currently  they are working at another restriction at the 30 m level.
The site has two more great sights, the rock shelter, in American historic bluff shelter which is beneath being a geotope also a historic site which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. American Indian elders held important ceremonies here. Archaeological excavation in 1971 revealed up to 10,000-year-old artifacts, fire pits, small arrow points, and Woodward Plain pottery. Actually there are several historic sites, including some remains of a former mill. And there is a botanical garden surrounding the spring.
Blue Spring Heritage Center is a museum on site which gives an overview on the long history of the spring. It seems the American Indian tribes considered the spring sacred ground, where no quarrels were allowed. The spring was a trading post in the early 19th century. The Osage Indians living here were nicknamed Strongboat Indians, because they transported goods down the White River to New Orleans. From the early 1840 the water was used to grind corn, the first mill was built 100 m downstream from the spring. In 1903 a new mill was built, the three-story building included a saw, grist and flour mill. The building was removed in 1943 before the site became a tourist attraction. You can see a film on its history and a 10-minute film named In to the Unknown about cave diving at the spring.