This past weekend winds blew us away to Crystal City Underground. A former sand mine located outside of Crystal City, MO which is approximately 35-45 minutes from St. Louis, MO on HWY 55. An impressive sight for exploration, curiosity, and hidden potential. Consider it a quick getaway into the unknown and a flashback into history.

My wife and I tend to explore untapped potential on the weekends. This past week we decided to venture out into Crystal City, MO and use up my Valentine’s Day Groupon deal. Yes my wife still uses it and absolute loves the platform. The Groupon deal included a barge ride for two in the former Crystal City Underground mine. So, naturally we made it out to be a scenic tour into the unknown.

About Crystal City Underground

One of the hidden historical gems in the St. Louis area. A former sand mine that halted operates in the late 1930’s. At one point in time this was the golden nugget for Crystal City, MO. It is located about a mile away from the Mississippi River and precisely why nowadays a sizable lake occupies a good portion of its 6,000,000 million square feet land. Isn’t that crazy? That translates to approximately a 4 mile radius of sand, water, dunes, and more.

Crystal City underground sand mine walk

The asymmetrical grid of pillars that were carved out in its early days project the assimilation of a labyrinth. Everything appears nearly proportional and actually quite confusing. I have to admit that if you are even the slightest claustrophobic then the exploration of the sand mine may be a frightful experience.

The Crystal City Underground website offers additional information regarding visitation, parties, special events, and directions. GPS will get you lost on the way to this place so I strongly advise that you rely on the directions posted on the website. This sand mine was also featured on the popular Discovery Channel show Salvage City. A show that not only took place in St. Louis, MO but also included characters that all currently reside in the Gateway City. You could say that the airing of the show was a bit of a mile marker for STL on a national scale.

The Barge Ride at Crystal City Underground Sand Mine

Besides plenty of sand and water, the Crystal City Underground attraction offers a variety of activities. Some of those include kayak & canoe tours, the Sand Mine Challenge, Treasure Hunters, barge/pontoon rides, disc golf, and indoor sand volleyball. The barge ride for two Groupon offer was definitely worth it. I have to admit though that my wife braved the darkness, 30-40 foot ceilings, and 30+ feet of lake depth beneath the barge.

Barge ride at Crystal City Underground

Barge ride lake water at Crystal City Underground


Take a closer look at the water clarity in photo above. It was actually quite mind boggling to be starring at lake water in a cave and see such transparency. One of the most intricate aspects of the barge ride was the fact that the water never ended up being diluted because of the waves created by the barge. In other words, while we were traveling on the barge ride you could veer aboard, look straight down, and notice the bottom. Some 30+ feet at its deepest spots. The water was so clear that you could even notice legacy tire tracks from vehicles dating back to some 40-50 years ago. If you recall from the history above, at one point in time Crystal City Underground sand mine was a full blown city, employing thousands of workers.

I am personally quite fascinated by underground activity. Including caves, tunnels, cities, etc. The barge ride lasts approximately 30 minutes with fairly good narration and historical background information.

An Expansion on the Move

According to its current owner Tom Kerr the vision of a Crystal City Underground Sports Complex may come to fruition sooner rather than later. The CCU concept is an emulation of the Kentucky Exposition Center. It currently boasts over 7,000 jobs, residing on over 1,000,000 square foot of property, and generating millions of dollars in annual revenue.

Here is a glimpse of Tom’s vision of a modern Crystal City Underground Sports complex.

Crystal City Underground Sports Complex Concept


If you enjoy taking a walk on the wild side than the Crystal City Underground sand mine will definitely be up your alley.

NOTE: Look for a video on my YouTube channel with exclusive footage from the barge ride and walkabout.