Cathedral Caverns State Park, located in the scenic foothills of Northern Alabama, is a hidden gem that offers an unforgettable underground adventure. Whether you’re an avid spelunker or a family looking for a unique outing, this state park has something for everyone. Recently, Melea had the chance to record an episode of Unexpected Adventures in North Alabama from inside a cave in the park, and that served as the inspiration for this blog post. Here's what you need to know before you visit.

Listen the Unexpected Adventures in North Alabama podcast episode all about Cathedral Caverns!


cathedral caverns

History and Highlights

Originally named “Bat Cave,” Cathedral Caverns boasts one of the largest cave openings in the world at 126 feet wide and 25 feet high. The cave was renamed due to its cathedral-like appearance, complete with stalagmites and stalactites that resemble ornate columns and intricate sculptures.

The caverns were first discovered by James Gurley in the 1950s and opened to the public in 1955. In 1987, the state of Alabama purchased the caverns, and they became a state park in 2000. The park not only features impressive caverns but also includes scenic hiking trails and a campground, making it an ideal spot for a day trip or a weekend getaway.

cathedral caverns

What to See Inside the Caverns

  1. Goliath: This is the world’s largest stalagmite, measuring 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumference. It's a breathtaking natural wonder that alone makes the visit worthwhile.

  2. Frozen Waterfall: A massive flowstone formation that resembles a cascading waterfall frozen in time.

  3. Stalactite Forest: An area filled with countless stalactites hanging from the ceiling, creating an almost otherworldly landscape.

  4. The Big Room: The main chamber of the cavern, which is large enough to fit a football field. The sheer scale and beauty of this space are awe-inspiring.

  5. Mystery River: An underground river that flows through the caverns, adding to the mystique and charm of the exploration experience.

cathedral caverns

Guided Tours

Guided tours are the best way to experience Cathedral Caverns. The tours last about 90 minutes and cover approximately 1.5 miles round trip. Knowledgeable guides provide fascinating insights into the geological formations and history of the caverns. It’s recommended to book your tour in advance, especially during peak visiting times like weekends and holidays.

Tips for Your Visit

  1. Wear Comfortable Clothing and Footwear: The temperature inside the caverns is a constant 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so bring a light jacket. Wear sturdy shoes with good grip, as the cave floor can be uneven and damp.

  2. Bring a Flashlight: While the caverns are well-lit, bringing your own flashlight can help you see some of the smaller details and formations up close.

  3. Check the Weather: The park is open year-round, but some outdoor activities, like hiking, may be weather-dependent. It's always a good idea to check the forecast before your visit.

  4. Plan Your Trip Around Events: Cathedral Caverns State Park hosts various events throughout the year, such as gem mining for kids and educational programs. Check the park’s website for a schedule of events to enhance your visit.

  5. Pack a Picnic: The park has picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature. It’s a great way to relax and take in the scenic beauty after your cave tour.

cathedral caverns

Exploring the Park

Beyond the caverns, Cathedral Caverns State Park offers additional attractions:

  1. Hiking Trails: The park has several hiking trails that range from easy to moderate. These trails provide stunning views of the surrounding landscape and are a great way to explore the natural beauty of the area.

  2. Gem Mining: Gem mining is a fun activity for kids and adults alike. Gem mining allows visitors to sift through dirt and sand to find various gemstones. It’s an educational and entertaining experience that adds to the adventure.

  3. Camping: For those looking to extend their stay, the park offers a campground with both primitive and modern campsites. Camping at the park allows you to fully immerse yourself in the natural beauty and tranquility of the area.

cathedral caverns


Cathedral Caverns State Park is committed to providing access to all visitors. The main path through the caverns is wheelchair accessible, and the park has made efforts to ensure that the cave tour is enjoyable for everyone, regardless of mobility.

Conservation Efforts

The park is dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and geological significance of the caverns. Visitors are encouraged to respect the delicate formations and to follow all park rules to help protect this natural wonder for future generations.

Cathedral Caverns State Park

Getting There

Cathedral Caverns State Park is located at 637 Cave Road, Woodville, Alabama. It’s easily accessible by car, and ample parking is available on-site. If you’re coming from Huntsville, it’s a scenic 30-minute drive southeast.

A visit to Cathedral Caverns State Park is a journey into a subterranean world filled with awe-inspiring natural wonders. Whether you’re marveling at the grandeur of Goliath or enjoying a peaceful hike through the park’s trails, there’s no shortage of memorable experiences. By planning ahead and following these tips, you can ensure that your trip to Cathedral Caverns is both enjoyable and unforgettable. So pack your sense of adventure and get ready to explore one of Alabama’s most spectacular natural attractions!

cathedral caverns cabin