Bill & Steve’s Excellent Adventure, or On Quest to find an Overland Route to Jam Up Cave

I had read about and viewed photos of Jam Up Cave along the Jacks Fork River for a number of years.  Every source I could find made specific mention that the only way was by boat along the river.  The case being that I am still most comfortable and knowledgeable on my lug-soled boots, I figured it would be a while before I got a chance to see it.  Then, in one of the recent cover stories from the MDC’s Conservationist, Brett Dufur highlighted the Upper Jacks Fork and mentioned Jam Up Cave that lies at the confluence of Jam Up Creek and the Jacks Fork.  This prompted my friend Steve and his father to find an overland route via the Jacks Fork Natural Area.  Within a few days of their visit Steve graciously showed me the way.  I have marked what I believe was our general route to the cave from a small pullout.  County Rd OO 491 can be accessed off of OO north of Hwy 60 just east of the town of Mountain View.

Jam Up Cave Route

The hike was not too long, but it deserves highest marks in terms of the difficulty of the terrain.  We bushwhacked our way mostly along ridge tops but enjoyed the burn of moving up near 500 vertical feet.  I had my first look at the end of Jam Up Creek, a losing stream that vanishes underground among boulders and rubble of the karst topography that dominates this watershed.  We then entered the rear of the cavern where we were treated to views like these.  Can you find Steve in this one?


“The Grand Perspective″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, ISO 400,  f/8, manual blend of three exposures

This next one is a bit deeper into the cave looking towards the front entrance across the forbidden pool.  The drop from this side to the pool would have been near 30-40 feet.  From both sides of the pool, impressive looks can be had of an underground waterfall.  Try as I might, I could not find an interesting way to make a photograph of it.  Did we find Smeagol?  We’ll never tell.


“The Forbidden Pool″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, EF17-40mm f/4L USM @ 25mm, ISO 320,  f/11, manual blend of three exposures

From here we made the climb out of the cave and up to the top of the bluff that offers great views of the Jacks Fork as it bends its way around the bluffs.  The ancient cedars attached to the edge of the bluffs were quite impressive and are not easily forgotten.


“Jacks Fork Lookout″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, ISO 100,  f/11, 1/100 sec

The “front door” of Jam Up Cave is this cavernous maw, the roof of which stands at over 100 feet high and nearly as wide.  This opening funnels into a much narrower tunnel that leads through a rubble field for ~500 feet to the other side of the forbidden pool that I discussed above.  This is a classic karst feature of the Missouri Ozarks and should rank up there with Grand Gulf, HaHa Tonka, the classic Ozark Springs and Devil’s Well.


“Cavernous Maw″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, Sigma 15mm f/2.8 EX DG, ISO 100,  f/11, manual blend of three exposures

On the way out of the cavern we saw this impressive site and decided to give it a bit more sense of perspective by putting a certain pathetic creature into the scene.


“Jam Up″

Technical details: Canon EOS 5D Mark II camera, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM @ 47mm, ISO 160,  f/11, manual blend of three exposures