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Discover 11 Top-Rated Caves in Alabama

Alabama is located in the southeastern region of the United States. It’s best known for deep valleys, high mountainous ridges, flat coastal plains, foothills of the Appalachian, river deltas, and barrier islands.

Look no further than Alabama if you are in search of a nature escape and a memorable adventure. Explore the huge cave systems with meandering pathways, spectacular waterfalls, and subterranean tunnels, and marvel at its rich geographic diversity.

Are you an avid spelunker? The caving adventures in Alabama listed below will excite you if you enjoy spelunking. Scroll down to find out more information about each cave and cavern.

Neversink Pit

Neversink Pit has some unique waterfalls and beautiful ferns covering ledges, making it the most photographed site in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. Approximately 40 feet in diameter at the top and 100 feet in diameter at the bottom, the Neversink pit can only be accessed using vertical caving skills. You can take a long hike up the mountain if you do not have the necessary vertical caving skills to ascend and descend the cave.

Cathedral Caverns State Park

Cathedral Caverns is a karst cave located in Kennamer Cove, Alabama. The entire cavern spans approximately 1.3 miles, making it one of the longest public-owned recreation areas in the United States. Initially known as the Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns was developed as a tourist attraction in the 1950s.

Notable features of the cavern include Goliath, one of the largest stalagmites globally, a large flowstone waterfall, and Mystery River, flowing through the cavern. It’s an ideal place for school trips, church, or other groups since it maintains a suitable 60-degrees temperature throughout all seasons.

Majestic Caverns (DeSoto Caverns)

Formerly known as DeSoto Caverns, the Majestic Caverns is one of the fascinating places in Childersburg, Alabama. The caverns feature several formations, including onyx-marble stalagmites and stalactites. Visitors are not permitted to touch most of these formations because the Majestic Caverns has actively growing speleothems.

  • Address: 5181 Desoto Caverns Pkwy, Childersburg, AL 35044, United States
  • Website: Majestic Caverns
  • Phone number: +1 256-378-7252
  • Entrance fee: $20 for adults, $9 for children between ages 5-12, and free for children under 4.
  • Google Maps link: Majestic Caverns

Rickwood Caverns State Park

Rickwood Caverns offers guided tours along the aptly named “Miracle Mile” with illuminated limestone formations and an underground swimming pool filled with blind cave fish. The state park is named after Eddie Rickles and Sonny Arwood, who brought the caverns to public attention.

The park features other activities and amenities, including playgrounds, hiking trails, spring-fed pools, and picnic areas with shelters.

Stephens Gap Cave

Stephens Gap Cave is a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers. The cave boasts a 143-ft pit below the edge that can only be accessed using vertical caving skills. Visitors who possess such skills use rappelling and other specialty equipment to enter and exit the cave.

Those who don’t have the needed experience to ascend to the bottom safely can take a short walk-in passage that intersects the pit roughly 50 feet above the floor. However, the trail tends to be steep and slippery, so exercise extreme caution while walking close to the edge.

Manitou Cave

Nestled near the town of Fort Payne, Alabama, at the foot of Lookout Mountain, Manitou Cave is full of ancient geological formations and history that has attracted human interactions for centuries. The Fort Payne area was a Cherokee settlement named Willstown during the 1800s. Sequoyah chose Willstown as an ideal place to settle and work on establishing the Cherokee syllabary.

Cave tours take around one hour and don’t halt unless there is an emergency. Therefore visitors are advised to come prepared to complete the tour. Appropriate footwear is recommended since it’s clay inside the cave.

  • Address: Fort Payne, AL 35967, United States
  • Website: Manitou Cave of Alabama
  • Entrance fee: : Tour pricing is by donation only, so it’s up to the visitor’s discretion.
  • Google Maps link: Manitou Cave

Russell Cave National Monument

Russell Cave National Monument is an ideal place for history buffs. It’s an archeological treasure trove used as a shelter by the prehistoric Indians thousands of years ago. Originally served as a seasonal winter shelter, Russell Cave played a critical role in the survival of early humans.

In addition to the Main Entrance, the cave has five other entrances. Two entrances are referred to as the Pig Entrance and Picnic Entrance, while the other three are named Canoe Entrances. There is a natural spring that travels underground the cave before joining the Tennessee River.

Tumbling Rock Cave

Tumbling Rock Cave is Alabama’s hidden treasure, with over six miles of surveyed passages. The cave is open every weekend to the public. It features numerous spectacular formations, including stalagmites and stalactites, which helps keep the cave cool. There are also several other huge column formations with fanciful names like The Christmas Tree, The Little Hall of Mysteries, The Totem Gallery, and The Elephants Feet.

Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge

Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge is a 264-acre located near the Sauty Creek embayment of Guntersville Lake. It was one of the largest saltpeter mining sites during the Civil War.

The cave protects several endangered Gray and Indiana bat species. For this reason, the cave is closed to the public to avoid the potential disturbance of bats. Other species, like the Tennessee cave salamander and the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat, also live in the cave.

While at Sauta Cave National Wildlife refuge, visitors can engage in numerous recreational activities like hiking or viewing the diverse wildlife and the unique geology.

Three Caves

Nestled on Land Trust of North Alabama’s Monte Sano Nature Preserve, Three Caves are an interesting remnant of the local history. It’s a former limestone mine, not a real cave, despite its name. Several years ago, a “room and pillar” mining method was used to access the good-quality limestone underground easily. Three cave-like openings were created in the process, giving the cave its current name.

Take a short hike through the Three Caves Trailhead and discover everything from waterfalls and natural springs to sinkholes and different wildlife species.

Fern Cave National Wildlife Refuge

Located near Paint Rock, Alabama, Fern cave Nation Wildlife Refuge is home to the largest colony of endangered wintering gray bats in the United States. Fern Cave was established to protect the endangered bat species and the American hart’s tongue ferns, which are also considered federally threatened in the United States.

Many other species, including salamanders, bluegill, banded sculpin, and more, also live in the refuge. The cave remains inaccessible to the public, but visitors are welcome on other portions of the refuge.

Final Thoughts

A day trip to one of Alabama’s spectacular caves creates a unique experience for you and your family. Most of the caves in Alabama maintain a constant temperature of approximately 50 degrees, making it perfect for exploration on a hot summer day. While you can’t enter all the caves, especially the ones that protect the endangered bat species, there are many that you can explore, and they offer beautiful, memorable experiences.

Top image: faungg’s photos via Flickr / Creative Commons.

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