After World War II ended, tension took over the United States as Americans feared that the Soviet Union may be planning an attack. The underlying fear spanned decades, from 1946 until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed.
Tensions were particularly high in the early 1980s on American soil after the Soviets took down NATO military aircraft during a military exercise. Fearing the worst, Americans who could afford it invested in fallout shelters that could help protect them if the Soviets were to strike. John Hay was one of them. But he didn’t want just any ordinary shelter.
He Made His Fortune In The Tea Business
Along with his business partners Mo Siegel and Peggy Clute, John Hay founded Celestial Seasonings tea company in Boulder, Colorado in 1969. It started off with the three of them gathering herbs and flowers in the Colorado mountains and selling them to local health food stores.
The company saw a lot of success and went international in 1977. John Hay thought it was wise to invest some of his share in a bomb shelter, fearing that the Soviet Union might make a move on the United States. Instead of creating the shelter where he lived in Boulder, Hay thought the safest place to escape would be in the Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.
The Ozark Mountains Hide Plenty of Caves
The Ozark Mountains make up a great amount of Northern Arkansas, as well as portions of Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas. The land includes springs, losing streams, sinkholes, and caves. Some of the rocks found in the Ozarks are hundreds of millions of years old.
The combination of mountains and caves was an attractive option for John Hay as he sought to find a safe place to build a shelter in the early ’80s with the threat of nuclear war.
He Wanted To Shelter 50 People For Two Years
John Hay wasn’t just thinking about himself when designing his fallout shelter. He wanted to be able to accommodate 50 people for up to two years, stocking up loads of freeze-dried foods. He initially wanted it to be 10,000 square feet with cinder-block walls and plywood flooring.
He estimated that he would need 11 coats of clear epoxy applied to the cave walls, and use an internal freshwater spring as a water source. These plans met basic needs, but what the shelter ended up becoming was something much more.
Beckham Creek Cave
John Hay purchased 256 acres of private land in the Ozarks that included a large cave for $146,000 in 1983. Hay got to work designing the interior to make it a livable space in the event of a nuclear threat. As we know, the US was never hit with missiles from Cuba, and once the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Americans could relax and return to daily life with fear.
Hay sold the property and it exchanged hands a few times before he decided to buy it back. After its latest renovation, the cave is now a $2.7 million luxury home, and it’s pretty incredible.
It Spans 5,800 Square Feet
The cave that John Hay bought isn’t small by any means and had plenty of space to accommodate more than just himself. The interior of the Beckham Creek Cave spans 6,000 square feet and has several different sections of living space.
Shown here is the view of the living room that features a large four-person couch and two armchairs. You can see the beautifully designed door in the distance that lets in natural lighting. The cave was also designed with a geothermal heating system for comfort.
The Cave Is Millions of Years Old
The caves and rock in the Ozarks are hundreds of millions of years old, which is pretty incredible to think about while you’re lounging on luxury furniture inside of Beckham Creek Cave.
Since there’s no water naturally running through the cave, this one is considered ‘relict’. However, it is set-up with full plumbing like you have in your home. It’s not clear if the cave had plumbing in the 80s when it was designed as a shelter.
Imagine Eating Here
Now available for bookings, the Beckham Creek Cave is designed with all of the modern luxuries of a home. Interior designer Zach Less carefully selected furniture that would complement the natural aesthetic of the large cave.
The round dining table blends with the colors of the cave walls, while the metal chandelier offers just enough lighting to enjoy a meal without taking away from the cool and dark cave vibe.
A Gourmet Kitchen in a Cave
Cooking in a cave doesn’t sound all that great until you see this kitchen. The Beckham Cave’s gourmet kitchen is designed with high-end gas appliances and double convection ovens. You could even cook Thanksgiving dinner here!
The bar top is just on the other side of this incredible kitchen. Guests can cook and serve up a delicious meal without ever having to leave the cave. The windows offer plenty of natural light in this room.
You Can Book It For $1,200 Per Night
Most of the walls of the cave are left as is, exposing the raw nature of it. Here in the kitchen, however, is one concrete wall with a sliding doorway. The cave features four bedrooms and four bathrooms in this incredible space.
Able to sleep ten people, the Beckham Creek Cave is available for booking at $1,200 a night. Guests have access to all of the private land surrounding the cave, and beautiful views of a valley.
The Honeymoon Suite
The honeymoon suite is upstairs from the main living space. The spacious room features a round bed, sitting area, and it’s own attached bathroom. Note that all of the furniture blends in with the coloring of the cave, as well as the rock flooring.
The lighting is carefully placed to accentuate the features of the cavern, including the stalactites hanging from the ceiling. The height of the ceiling isn’t as low as you might imagine a cave bedroom would be. The ceilings in the main living area reach 40 feet!
There Are Four Bedrooms
Who wouldn’t want to retreat to this cozy bedroom when it’s time to go to sleep? Each bedroom is designed with one wall exposing the cave and another with wooden panels. The headboard in this room gives it a sturdy design, complete with industrial lights above the bed.
The designer threw in a pop of color here and there in this bedroom located on the main floor of the Beckham Cave.
It’s Like A Four-Star Hotel
It may be difficult to picture a bathroom in a cave that’s clean and inviting… until you see it for yourself. Designer Zach Less went with a tile design for the walls with a wood ceiling and mirror frame.
As with every room in the house, one wall is left to expose the cave. This luxury bathroom has all the amenities you’d expect in a high-rated hotel, only you’re in a cave in the Ozarks!
A Shower You’ll Never Forget
One of the beautiful aspects of caves is the water that drips from the stalactites above. In this shower, guests of the Beckham Cave can go one step further and shower in the cave under a rainfall showerhead.
With four bathrooms, you can take your time and enjoy the experience knowing that no one is waiting for you to finish your turn. It’s incredible that the builders were able to design such a classy shower in the depths of the cave.
An Incredible Hallway
The hallway on the main floor is a masterpiece in itself. Guests can enjoy the incredible cave wall on one side and art on the other. The tone of the wood compliments the rock of the cave wall, while the recessed lighting guides you down the hall.
The layout of the Beckham Cave is truly remarkable, as every room and space highlights the natural majesty of the cave hidden in the Ozarks.
The Focal Point
Guests really get to enjoy the natural wonder of the Ozarks in the Beckham Cave. This section of the cave highlights the beauty of the natural cave formations, with a simple platform design. This is called the Spanish Piano Waterfall and is the focal point of the living room.
Strategically placed lighting invites you to take a closer look above. The cave is truly a unique experience that guests will remember for years to come.
A Sitting Area Upstairs
Oftentimes on vacation, it’s nice to lounge around with a good book and catch up on some reading. This sitting area upstairs in the Beckham Cave offers guests a secluded space to read while nestled alongside the cave walls.
The smooth flooring perfectly matches the cave ceiling while the minimal design of the lamp doesn’t distract from the natural beauty of the cave as the second floor brings guests closer to the ceiling.
Luxurious Living, Cave Style
This image offers a good overview of the living space downstairs. Taken from the kitchen, you can see that the bar top comfortably sits five guests, while the table has additional seating for eight.
John Hay certainly had enough room in the cave for any family or friends who would have needed to seek shelter during the Cold War. The open layout also allows everyone to socialize in one spot.
Cozy and Simple
The wood elements and the lighting really tie everything together in the design. The cave just wouldn’t look or feel right if there were bright colors and harsh lighting everywhere.
This is the perfect area to relax after a long hike on the property that includes creeks, mountains and a spot called “Alien Rock”. The living area features a 75-inch LED television mounted on the wall. Turn off the lights and get cozy while watching a movie!
An Incredible Vision
Looking at the Beckham Cave from the outside, it’s incredible that John Hay saw a fallout shelter in this cave in the Ozarks. Without the windows, doors, or fencing, you’d never know how much incredible beauty and luxury awaits inside.
Hay and the designers were able to create a truly magical space in the middle of the mountains. Outside is a fire pit and barbecue for guests to enjoy at night under the stars.
The View Outside Is Incredible, Too
Not only did Hay perfectly select the cave for its potential to house people and be designed into a functional living space, but he also found a cave with a stunning view! The cave is in a valley next to a catch-and-release pond.
There’s also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy on the land, including hiking, canoeing, fishing, horseback riding, and even helicopter rides. Speaking of helicopter rides… there’s another aspect of the cave that makes this a luxurious place to stay.
There’s a Helipad
The Beckham Creek Cave is located in a remote area out in the Ozarks. Those who don’t want to make the long drive to the property have the option of arriving via helicopter. Yes, the property is designed with a helipad.
Guests can also book a helicopter ride during their stay to see incredible views of the Ozark mountains, Buffalo National River, the White River, and much more. You’d want to book more than just one night here!
At One Point, The Cave Was A $6 Million Club
Hay held onto the property and cave for several years before deciding that he no longer needed a fallout shelter. After putting it on the market, a man by the name of “Mr. Richardson” purchased it in 1987. Instead of a fallout shelter, the new owner turned the cave into a high-end club, investing $6 million in the design.
250 guests visited the Beckham Cave at its grand opening. Guests included A-listers including Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Diana Ross. After Mr. Richardson, the cave had several other owners before Hay eventually decided to purchase the cave back. Today, the Beckham Cave is truly inspiring.