Cathedral Caverns is more than just a recreation area, this Alabama state park is also a natural history preserve with a large cave as its main feature.
Known for many years as ‘The Bats Cave’, this cave boasts one of the largest openings for commercial caves in the world and may be one of the longest publicly accessible caves in the US (1.3 miles).
Many visitors love to stop by and explore the cave and then stay for a picnic and simply enjoy the woods, fresh air and nature all around.
The cave may be the main reason so many visit Cathedral Caverns State Park but it isn’t the only thing to do at this 493 acre park in northern Alabama.
Some of the other highlights here include camping in the woods, exploring the many miles of trails on Pisgah Mountain, birdwatching and even completing a 5K.
Here is a breakdown of each of the activities that you can do at Cathedral Caverns State Park:
Cave at Cathedral Caverns State Park
The cave has been attracting visitors since the 1950s when it was known as the ‘Bats Cave’. It was declared as a National Natural Landmark in 1972 and renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance. And in 2000 it officially became a state park.
At a cool 60 degrees year round the cave is a nice escape on a hot summer day. As you walk through the massive entrance and into the cave you’ll feel as though you are walking through a cathedral or maybe into an adventure movie.
The cave features a large stalagmite forest, a mystery river that flows through the cavern and a ‘frozen’ waterfall. And Cathedral Caverns houses one of the largest stalagmites in the world – Goliath. It stands at an incredible 45 feet tall and has a circumference of 243 feet.
You’ll need a guide before you’re allowed to enter the cave but tours are offered daily. These cave tours take about 90 minutes to complete the 1.5 mile round trip walk through that is also wheelchair accessible.
After you’ve finished touring the cave stop into the Visitor’s Center & Gift Shop and purchase a bag or bucket of mining dirt. Then head over to the Gem Mining station and sift through your bag’s content through the custom made flume to discover fossils, gems and other treasures.
Trails at Cathedral Caverns State Park
The trailhead starts across the parking lot on Cathedral Caverns Road and branches out to cover some 5 and ½ miles of trails inside of the park. Each trail is clearly marked and named by a color.
The trails lead through the hardwood trees, over gentle slopes, grassy meadows and along the edge of the creek as they wind their way up Pisgah Mountain.
If you’re interested in experiencing an exotic 5K or higher trail check out one of these three competitive trail races that are held here yearly:
- Race to the Cave Half Marathon & 10K – held in March.
- Conquer the Cave 5K – held in September.
- 5K/15K Trail Run – held in November.
Here are a couple of the more popular trails for walking, hiking and biking:
- The Brown Trail – An easy 1.9 trail.
- Yellow and Green Loop – A moderate 2.5 mile trail that loops around Pisgah Mountain. Great wildlife viewing opportunity!
If you’re searching for more trails head over to Huntsville and explore the Monte Sano Nature Preserve. You’ll discover 22 miles of trails inside of this 1,100 acre park only minutes from Huntsville and about a half hour drive from Cathedral Caverns.
Wildlife at Cathedral Caverns State Park
Both of these bat species are insect eaters. They hibernate during the winter and the rest of the year they sleep during the day and forage for insects at night.
If you’re interested in learning more about these often feared but important creatures you can learn more at Batweek.
Other species of birds and mammals that live in the North Alabama woods and are a common sight at Cathedral Caverns State Park include eagles, bluebirds, woodpeckers, deer, squirrels, raccoons and turtles.
Check out this site to learn more about the native and migrating birds in this area.
Camping at Cathedral Caverns State Park
Relax and unwind after a full day of exploring by spending the night inside the park. Cathedral Caverns State Park has over 40 campsites and 4 cabins available for you to reserve. The campground has 25 full hookup/no tent sites and 11 basic (water and electric) campsites plus another 5 primitive tent only sites.
Another 2 large rustic backcountry campsites can accommodate groups wanting to camp together. Be aware that you will have to walk the ¾ mile and carry in your camping supplies to reach these 2 sites.
Each campsite has a fire ring and there is a bathhouse conveniently located nearby.
The cabins are located close to the caverns, gift shop and trails. They were modeled after the ‘Tiny Cabin’ concept and are quite cozy and comfortable. One cabin is pet friendly and another cabin is ADA accessible. Be sure to specify when making reservations.
Pets at Cathedral Caverns State Park
Pets must be leashed and are not allowed inside any buildings or the cave.
Attractions Near Cathedral Caverns State Par
After you’ve explored the cave and trails head over to nearby Huntsville and explore some more. Here are some noteworthy destinations nearby:
Cathedral Caverns State Park
637 Cave Road
Woodville, AL 35776
Visitor Center/Gift Shop Hours:
Daily 9:00am – 5:30pm
Here is a short YouTube video showcasing the caves and several other attractions at Cathedral Caverns State Park: