From Gulf State Park to Cheaha State Park, there are some beautiful natural spaces and scenic locations to visit all around the state of Alabama. Anyone looking for outdoor recreation in the Yellowhammer State will have a lot of options available to them, with many locations being perfectly suited for hiking, cycling, camping, and many other outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy.
While many of the state parks all around Alabama, and much of the rest of the United States, are dominated by lakes, forests, rivers, and mountains, some state parks offer totally different experiences and are actually mostly located underground in extensive cave and cavern systems. Cathedral Caverns State Park is one of these locations, and it's one of the best Alabama state parks to visit.
Cathedral Caverns State Park - Alabama State Park
Situated in Kennamer Cover, just a few miles from the nearby towns of Woodville and Grant in Marshall County, Cathedral Caverns State Park is one of the most unique and beloved state parks in all of Alabama. Only opened as a state park in the year 2000, Cathedral Caverns has been classed as a National Natural Landmark since 1972 and has been a popular tourist site since the 1950s, when it was simply known to the public as 'Bats Cave'. Here's all you need to know about Cathedral Caverns State Park:
- The History - Archaeological discoveries in the Cathedral Caverns State Park area suggest that Native Americans have been living in the area for centuries, with some findings even suggesting that the caves were inhabited by man thousands of years ago. The area all around the Cathedral Caverns State Park, Kennamer Cove, was named after the Kennamer family who settled there in the 19th century. The Kennamers actually hid out in the caves during the Civil War after their own farmhouse had been burned down by soldiers fighting for the North. It was in the 1950s that the caverns started to take off as a tourist and recreation area, being owned and operated by Jay Gurley at the time. The area was eventually sold to the State of Alabama in the late 80s. Renovation work was undertaken and the caves were opened up as Cathedral Caverns State Park in 2000.
- Camping at Cathedral Caverns State Park - Camping is perfectly possible in the area around Cathedral Caverns State Park, with both basic and more fully-equipped camping areas available. Those interested in classic camping can visit the Cathedral Caverns State Park Backcounty Campsite. Getting to this site involves hiking for nearly a mile with all your camping equipment, so it can be a challenge, but it will definitely appeal to old-fashioned campers. A stay here costs just $5 per night, per person. Those who prefer a more modern camping experience can visit the regular camping sites which feature full 30/50 amp RV hook-ups ($20 per night) as well as more primitive sites with fire rings ($13 per night). No reservations are taken, so sites are provided on a first come, first served basis, and there is a bathhouse for the use of campers.
- Visiting Cathedral Caverns State Park - Cathedral Caverns State Park is located at 637 Cave Road, Woodville AL. The Welcome Center for the park opens up at 9am and is open on a daily basis. This a day-use park that can be fully enjoyed from sunrise until sunset. The park itself features an incredible cavern system with a huge, cathedral-like entrance and some unique features like the 'Goliath' stalagmite, which is 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference, making it one of the biggest in the world, as well as a frozen waterfall. There's a lot to see in the caves, and the ambient temperature us around 60 degrees all year long, making it quite a comfortable place to explore at any time of year.
- Things To Do At Cathedral Caverns State Park - The best way to experience Cathedral Caverns State Park is to sign up for one of the daily cave tours. Available for a small fee of just $19 for adults or $9 for children, with discounts available for groups and students, the Cathedral Caverns State Park cave tours run several times per day. With these tours, a trained guide will lead the way and show you some of the unique features of the caverns, as well as explaining the geology and history of the location. Gem mining is also a popular activity here and can be enjoyed throughout the day by visitors of all ages. You're able to buy a bag of 'rough' gemstone and then wash and clean it the old-fashioned way to unveil the gems within. There are also some beautiful scenic hiking trails in the area.
Overall, Cathedral Caverns State Park is one of the best state parks to visit in the state of Alabama. Offering a totally different experience to so many other state parks, this location features an exciting and historic cavern system with some awe-inspiring rock formations and plenty of fun things to do.