There is a lot going on underneath the Show Me State. Beneath our feet are thick beds of limestone that, in some places, are slowly being dissolved by groundwater. This natural occurrence creates caves, which is why you’ll find over 6,000 caves in our great state. Another unique formation you can find in the Missouri Ozarks is a huge underground cave full of water known as the Devil’s Well. Most people have no idea where this massive lake is hiding, but it’s totally worth checking out!
Tucked away in rural Salem, Missouri is a geological wonder that is unlike anything else in the state. Devil’s Well is a huge underground lake and you’ll want to catch a glimpse.
Thousands of years ago, a sinkhole partially collapsed and exposed the 100 foot deep shaft that plunges into the depths of the earth.
Although early European and American settlers knew the that the sinkhole existed, the first documented exploration of the shaft and subsequent underground lake occurred in 1954. Land owner Bill Wallace lowered his brother, Bob, down into the cave with a hand powered winch, steel cable, and a “bosun’s chair.” They discovered the largest underground lake in Missouri.
At the bottom of the shaft lies a huge 400 foot long and 100 foot wide lake. At many points the lake itself is over 100 feet deep. If a person were to fall into the lake accidentally, they would die within minutes due to hypothermia and exhaustion. There are virtually no places to stand once inside the cave.
Researchers have discovered a lot about this lake and cave system. Geologists have been able to explore the system further and biologist have discovered the rare Salem Cave Crayfish and Southern Cave Fish living there. Bats have also been seen inside the cave.
The cave was last explored by researchers in 2015. Although the public doesn’t have access to the lake, it can be seen from a viewing platform. Take a short hike to a spiraling staircase that leads to the platform. Be sure to bring a flashlight for a great view of the lake.
The Devil’s Well Trail is just 0.1 miles long. However, it connects to the Cave Spring Trail which will lead you to another great cave (Cave Spring) which is open to the public for tours.