The Ozark Mountains are pure paradise for the outdoorsman. Old-growth forests, seeping springs, and high waterfalls ignite our passion. We want to go deeper here, to get dirty and bruised. Yet for many, exploring the heart of these mountains is nearly impossible. Pockmarked with massive cave systems and high rock bluffs, these hills hold secrets that most people will never see. Exploring the deepest parts of the Ozarks is an incredibly difficult and dangerous undertaking. Sinkholes, rockfa...
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The Ozark Mountains are pure paradise for the outdoorsman. Old-growth forests, seeping springs, and high waterfalls ignite our passion. We want to go deeper here, to get dirty and bruised. Yet for many, exploring the heart of these mountains is nearly impossible.
Pockmarked with massive cave systems and high rock bluffs, these hills hold secrets that most people will never see. Exploring the deepest parts of the Ozarks is an incredibly difficult and dangerous undertaking. Sinkholes, rockfalls, and pure isolation pose risks not many are willing to take. Unless you’re an experienced and well-muscled trekker, getting here is hard.
However, Beckham Creek Cave Lodge offers a solution. This 5-star cave resort is nestled deep in the Ozarks backcountry and boasts a traversable road system to all its major attractions. I recently had the opportunity of a lifetime to visit, and I’m here to spill all the beans about the experience. Where wilderness meets opulence, this cave creates a story for all who enter. Spoiler alert: it’s crazy awesome.
This boutique lodge in the middle of nowhere sets a fairy-tale scene of enchantment and wonder.
What Makes this Property So Special?
Beckham Creek Cave sits on 256 acres of raw Ozark Mountains. The property itself lays along Beckham Creek, a subsidiary of the nearby Buffalo River. It’s a monumental piece of land, with mountains, bluffs, and valley topography all free and open for you to explore. Lying at the end of a secluded mountain road, this piece of pristine paradise is hidden far away from the prying eyes of the modern world.
The views are spectacular no matter which trails you traverse.
There are four designated hiking trails here, each one leading you to a different natural wonder. You’ll find an old native American encampment, an impossibly high grotto, a spring-fed waterfall, and panoramic views at the end of these sojourns. The hikes are steep, hard, and totally worth it. Expect to get your boots muddy, and expect to see things you’d never see anywhere else.
Public parks rarely have hiking trails developed to these kinds of places. When they do, the trails are long and arduous. At Beckham Creek, the trails are also difficult—but if you prefer, you can take an ATV. This means disabled or elderly people can enjoy the nature here as well, and Beckham Creek is renowned for its accessibility.
When you pay to stay at the lodge, you have full run of the place. It doesn’t close at night, you can always build a campfire, and you never have to worry about park rangers coming in and giving you grief. Climb, scramble, swim, jump, and explore to your heart’s content. You can be yourself here. We went foraging for mushrooms during the day, then put on a private fire show and drank margaritas at night.
Dancing with fire is a big no-no in the wilderness, but you’re the boss at Beckham Creek.
Man-Made Amenities to Enjoy
Millions of dollars have been spent on renovating and developing the property into a playground. Want to relax by the water? You’ve got three ponds to choose from. The main one below the cave is the biggest and best, well-stocked with a plethora of catfish and bass. You can catch-and-release or eat your fill. Take a complimentary canoe or kayak out and paddle around, or play a game of horseshoes by the shore. The ponds are all spring-fed from water which flows from Beckham Cave itself. You can see the origin spring from the living room of the lodge.
The fish are always biting in the Ozarks.
Down in the valley near the pond, there’s an area full of swinging seats known as “Hammock Haven”. It’s nice to picnic there while you listen to the trickling stream beside the trees. Read a book and relax, or run and jump as you play on the frisbee golf course. You can also stroll around the valley grounds to explore. It is a bit fascinating (and dare I say, unnerving?) to see the perfectly-manicured lawns of Beckham Creek Lodge against a remote backdrop of wild and tangled Ozark Forest.
It gets even better once night falls. Beckham Cave Lodge is perched high on the bluff above Beckham Creek. The opposite side of the creek boasts its own array of tall bluffs, which are lit up at night by spotlights along the creekbed. I’ve lived for many years in the Ozarks, and this was the first time I have ever seen bluffs illuminated like that. It showcases the power of nature by highlighting its awestriking features, infusing the whole property with otherworldly beauty and a queer, dark peace.
Illuminated in the darkness, the bluffline view from Beckham Cave looks ethereal.
All About the Cave Lodge
The view from the cave is spectacular no matter the season.
Most of us know about glamping by now. This practice does away with hard ground and hard work, allowing you to enjoy a fully-prepared campsite as soon as you arrive. You’ll have a soft bed, hot showers, maybe a wi-fi connection, and all the bells and whistles to make you feel at home. But what if you could feel better than you do at home? That’s the goal at Beckham Cave.
The lodge itself is exactly what the name implies: a live cave. First purchased for use as a nuclear bunker during the cold war, the cave has changed quite a bit over its decades-long love affair with humanity. It has been modified to be comfortably habitable, which may not seem like a big deal at first. After all, people have been living in caves since the dawn of time. But creating this luxury lodge was no small feat. It isn’t just a cave. It’s an exercise in opulence, each element of design meticulously crafted in urban revival-style luxury with clean lines and sleek colors.
From hanging chandeliers to live-edge cedar tables, this cave is perfectly designed for the discerning traveler.
Every natural feature is carefully preserved and accentuated to draw attention to the fact that is this is an actual cave you’re sleeping in. The living room boasts a spring-fed waterfall, while the high ceilings are a treasure trove of stalactites. The architects of this wonder used a variety of epoxy resin, cement, and other materials to help keep moisture at bay while preserving the integrity of the cave.
Water trickling down from the natural spring provides peaceful sounds for drifting off to sleep.
The dehumidifying and air conditioning systems alone cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s on top of the cost and sheer difficulty in accessing the place. It’s high on the cliff, the road to reach it nearly vertical. Thousands of gallons of concrete and other building materials had to be hauled into the valley and up onto the bluff to make this endeavor happen. It wasn’t easy, and the feat of construction is magnificent to behold.
Coming from a family of builders, I see this cave through a practical set of eyes. I see the hard work, the dedication, the planning, and the flexibility of thought that went into this. Not to mention the money spent on time and materials. The good news? While I’m not sure exactly what it cost, the cave was worth every penny.
It has four separate chambers for sleeping, each equipped with a natural cave-walled bathroom and shower area. The beds are soft and comfortable, and the closed rooms are heated with space heaters. As this is a cave, it stays cool all year. The Wi-Fi doesn’t reach every nook and cranny, and water drips onto the floor and even onto you every once in a while. But a bit of moisture is a small price to pay to stay the night near the throbbing heart of earth in the most beautiful place on the planet.
This stalactite-studded sleeping chamber is a one-of-a-kind experience.
What to Know Before You Go
Thinking about planning a visit? While it's easy to explore and get around, Beckham Creek Cave is not easy to get to. It lies near Parthenon, a fair bit aways from the town of Jasper in the affectionately-named “Grand Canyon of Arkansas”. Phone service here is spotty at best, and Google Maps might fail you. It’s much better to download the coordinates beforehand.
You’ll also need a four-wheel drive vehicle to access the cave. Like I said, the bluff road is nearly vertical. Plus, there are quite a few low-water crossing I wouldn’t attempt in anything less than a pickup truck. It’s a seven-mile drive off the pavement, and a low undercarriage will cause a lot of stress.
Of course, you don’t have to drive if you don’t want to. Esteemed guests can take a helicopter. You can’t miss the helipad, sitting garishly on the lawn. But I believe the road is appealing. It’s basically a tour through the Arkansas backwoods, where you’ll see the unblemished appeal of this wilderness up close and personal before you arrive at the cave.
Massive rocks and caves accentuate this wilderness drive.
So, what’s a night here going to cost you? The prices are determined for each year, and each night costs the same amount of money as determined by that year. The 2022 prices were $1,600 per night, but the 2023 prices have gone up considerably at $2,200 per night. None of this includes tax. Alas, this will be my first and last visit to the estate.
You’ll be bringing your own food and drinks as well. Newton County is a dry county, so buy your beer, wine, and spirits before you hit the line in Harrison. If you don’t feel like cooking, you can book a private chef through Beckham Creek’s website. For larger parties, catering is available through the Ranch House restaurant in Harrison, AR.
You might also want to book a private gong concert, or maybe a helicopter ride. You’ll receive a free UTV tour from the friendly caretaker at a time of your choosing, where you’ll be able to explore some deeper parts of the cave and get down and dirty with mother nature. Other than that, there isn’t much to tell—this is a personal adventure, and you can tailor it to suit any desires you have.
Foraging for edible treats proves bountiful in the Ozark wilderness along Beckham Creek.
A Trip to Remember
Even if you (or your wallet) aren’t up for a stay at Beckham Creek, you can still book a tour to view the grounds and cave if you like. I encourage you to do so, if only to see a perfect meeting of nature and humanity exemplified in the lodge and property surrounding it.
But even if you never make it here, a trip to other Ozarks wonders might not be out of the question. You can check out scenic views around the area or try budget camping in these mountains as well. Whether you want to camp, hike, or play in the water, all seasons are good for adventure in these hills.