Big Spring Historic District, Van Buren

#7 of 8 in Things to do in Van Buren
Big Spring is one of the largest springs in the United States and the world. An enormous first magnitude spring, it rises at the base of a bluff on the west side of the Current River valley in the Missouri Ozarks. Located about four miles downstream from Van Buren, it is within the boundaries of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and its visitor facilities are managed by the National Park Service. It is a contributing resource to Big Spring Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981.
The average flow of 470cuft of water per second from Big Spring constitutes the second largest tributary of the Current River. The spring is by far the largest spring in the Ozark Plateau region. The only two springs in the Ozark region that approach the size of Big Spring are Greer Spring and Mammoth Spring. Maximum discharge of Big Spring must be estimated because backwater from the Current River makes accurate high water measurements impossible. The spring issues from the base of a limestone bluff, churning out aqua-blue water with great force, creating white caps, then quickly calming to a crystal clear channel. The spring water travels about 1000ft where it adds itself to the Current River. The water is about 58 degrees Fahrenheit (13.3 °C), and the spring is surrounded by a well maintained park and a steep valley hillside covered in hardwood forest. Most of the known drainage basin encompasses northern areas of the Eleven Point River watershed. Big Spring is ever increasing in size, as the groundwater continues to dissolve limestone in a vast karst system, and continuation of stream capture in greater quantities. The spring is estimated to dissolve and remove 175 tons of limestone during an average day. The amounts of limestone dissolved and removed by the spring system in one year is estimated to equal a one-mile (1.6 km) long cave 30ft high 50ft wide, though that amount is dispersed among all parts of the karst system.
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Big Spring Historic District Reviews
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  • A natural spring that used to be the largest outflow in the world. Picnic tables, camping, craft demonstrations, river floating, etc. They are recovering from a Spring 2017 flood so make you check ahe...  more »
  • We always enjoy going to the Big Springs Area.There is a lot of history here, along with one of the most beautiful turquoise color natural springs you will ever see. Relaxing side trip with wildlife s...  more »
  • Such a beautiful place to visit! The water is amazing, so blue and gorgeous. The spring is just a minute or two from the parking lot and you can see it from the car so it's nice for those who can't walk far. Once you get to the spring the trail gets rough with large stones and narrow walkways leading up into the woods over the spring and river. If you can do that part, it's a beautiful view. The main bridge was closed during my visit so we didn't really do anything else. The parking lot by the spring also has a playground. Up the road a bit is a restroom and some picnic tables.
  • Love this spring I could sit and listen to the sounds all day. Very peaceful and clean!

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