North Alabama’s Cathedral Caverns State Park is an absolute gem that honestly doesn’t get as much attention as it should! Located just 35 minutes from the city of Huntsville, Cathedral Caverns is an incredible cave that offers family-friendly tours, outdoor recreation, and more.
Honestly, I am from North Alabama, but I only visited Cathedral Caverns once as a child. As an adult, I’ve found myself there several times and am amazed by its beauty every single time!
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What is Cathedral Caverns?
Cathedral Caverns is a North Alabama Cave that offers guided tours to some absolutely stunning geological rooms. It also has the largest opening of a commercial cave in the world!
Cathedral Caverns was first opened to the public in the 1950s, when it was purchased by Jacob Gurley for just $4,000. Later, the cave was sold to the State of Alabama, and it 2000 it was opened as Cathedral Caverns State Park.
Inside you’ll understand why it’s called Cathedral Caverns — huge rooms and intricate rock formations give parts of this cavern a “cathedral” feel.
Where is Cathedral Caverns State Park?
Cathedral Caverns is located in Woodville, AL. Here are some driving distances from nearby cities:
- From Huntsville: 30 miles (35 minutes)
- From Scottsboro: 21 miles (25 minutes)
- From Birmingham: 93 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)
- From Chattanooga: 83 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
Cathedral Caverns Tour
You MUST buy a ticket for a tour and enter the cave with a guide! You can buy tickets in the park gift shop, or call ahead and buy your tickets over the phone no more than two days in advance.
Cathedral Caverns is open every day and offers tours on the hour. But times vary depending on the day of the week.
Monday through Friday Tours:
- 10:00 a.m.
- 12:00 p.m.
- 2:00 p.m.
- 4:00 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday Tours:
- 10:00 a.m.
- 11:00 a.m.
- 12:00 p.m.
- 1:00 p.m.
- 2:00 p.m.
- 3:00 p.m.
- 4:00 p.m.
These times are subject to change, so be sure to check before you go. But tours happen rain or shine!
Cathedral Caverns has a paved path, making it easy for most everyone to walk. However wheelchairs are not recommended due to some of the steep inclines.
Pets are also not allowed inside Cathedral Caverns.
The total walking tour is about 1.5 miles and it takes about 90 minutes. Your tour guide will point out all kinds of geological formation and fun facts, like the shark tooth on the ceiling, the spot where a movie was filmed, a “frozen” waterfall, and more!
Cave Tour Sights
There are so many incredible sights to see inside Cathedral Caverns! Here are a few things your tour guide will likely point out.
- Shark Tooth — Millions of years ago, North Alabama was underwater. And so was this cave. Toward the beginning of your tour, there is a shark tooth embedded into the ceiling leftover from this period!
- Goliath — This “goliath” formation is one of the largest stalagmites in the world! It measures 45 feet tall and is 243 feet around.
- Tom and Huck Filming Location — Anyone remember the old Disney movie Tom and Huck starring 90s heart throb Jonathan Taylor Thomas? Well, part of that movie was filmed in Cathedral Caverns, and your tour guide will show you where!
- Stalagmites and Stalactites — Of course you’ll see these classic cave formations! Remember, stalagmites comes up from the ground because you “might” trip on them, and stalactites hang on “tight” to the ceiling.
- Frozen Waterfall — This flowstone was made from mineral deposits left from water that once flowed, and now it looks like a waterfall frozen in time.
- Cathedral Room — The most amazing room in Cathedral Caverns is toward the end of the publicly accessible cave and it’s where the cavern gets it’s name. Rock formations make it looks like a room full of cathedral spires. This is usually everyone’s favorite room, including mine!
Tips For Your Cave Tour
There are no bathrooms in the cave. So make sure your party (especially your kids!) use the bathroom before you enter the cave.
Remember—the cave is cool! It maintains a temperature of about 60 degrees F all year long. As a very temperature intolerant person, this is one thing I love about it. Cathedral Caverns is especially a great sight to visit during the summer because the cave air is so refreshing. But don’t forget to bring a light jacket!
Make sure you wear comfortable shoes for walking. And make sure you have shoes that can get wet. There are some damp places in the cave!
One more thing to know (especially if you have young kids): at the end of the cave tour there is a portion during which your guide will turn out the lights so you are in total darkness. Just be aware of this and make sure you have your kids close to you, holding their hands or maybe picking little ones if you think they might be scared.
Traveling to Alabama? Read one of these Alabama books before you go!
Cathedral Caverns State Park Recreation
Taking a cave tour is of course the best thing to do at Cathedral Caverns State Park. But they also offer some other recreation options.
There are four different hiking trails at Cathedral Caverns State Park, totaling about 5.5 miles. You can pick up a trail map in the State Park gift shop.
Little kids love gem mining! Buy a back of rough gemstones from the gift shop, and then head to the gem mining station so “mine” you gems and see what you can find.
Throughout the year, there are several trail run races you can participate in at Cathedral Caverns State Park. And what’s especially fun about each of these races is that you actually get to run through the cave!
- Race to the Cave Half Marathon and 10K run takes place each March.
- Conquer the Cave 5K takes place each September.
- Cathedral Caverns 5K and 15K Trail Run take place each November.
Cathedral Caverns State Park Accommodations
Cathedral Caverns offers several different accommodation options, including camping and cabins.
Their campground includes full service campsites, basic camp sites, and primitive campsites.
There are also 4 cabins at Cathedral Caverns State Park. Three of these cabins offer two bedrooms and sleep up to 6 people. One of the cabins has one bedroom and sleeps 2 people.
One important note: You now must bring your own linens to the cabins! The State Park does not provide sheets or towels.
Looking for somewhere else to stay near Cathedral Caverns State Park? Check out the map below. Many of these will be places on nearby Lake Guntersville.
More to Do in North Alabama
- Kid-Friendly Activities in Huntsville, AL
- 5 Easy Hikes in Huntsville, AL
- Visiting Noccalula Falls Park in Gadsden
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