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Cathedral Cavern

Cathedral Caverns in Alabama.

Underground caves can be scary places that make you feel claustrophobic and fearful. Each twist and turn, where you squeeze into a narrow passage and feel the cold, damp rock against your skin, can wipe away any amazement you might have felt at the new experience.

Alabama’s Cathedral Caverns, in the Cathedral Caverns State Park, aren’t like that at all! I know I sure loved them, and I’ve done a few cave tours around the United States.

I can guarantee that everyone, from those in wheelchairs to those who avoid tight, cramped places, can feel comfortable in the Cathedral Caverns.

Why?

Because the cave is one of the widest in the world, with an opening even a Tyrannosaurus rex could get through without ducking! And the cave, as far as the cement viewing path goes, doesn’t narrow.

In fact, there’s lots of evidence to show the caves have a long history of human visitors, since archaelogists have found evidence that it has been inhabited for about 9000 years. A spear point, 2 inches wide by 8 inches long, was uncovered here by an archeological dig in 1988 by students from Jacksonville State University.

But as well as evidence of human habitation, there are also lots of fossils to show that the cave was here millennia ago when Alabama was under a shallow sea. I was shocked to see shark’s teeth in the ceiling–in fact, explorers have found a dozen shark teeth embedded throughout the cave.


But that’s not all. Here are five things you may not know about Cathedral Caverns.

Amazing Facts about Cathedral Caverns

Fact #1: The entrance to Cathedral Caverns is an amazing 126 feet high and 25 feet wide!

Entrance to Cathedral Cavern in Alabama.

Entrance to Cathedral Cavern in Alabama.

 

Fact #2: The paved walking path through the Cathedral Cavern is about 3/4 of a mile long, for a full return trip of 1.5 miles if you go right to the end.

The wide cement trail through the Cathedral Cavern

The wide cement trail through the Cathedral Cavern makes it easy for everyone to visit.

Fact #3: The frozen waterfall, just past the Mystery River, has water cascading over a layer of flowstone. The Mystery River can be as deep as 40 feet.

The frozen waterfall in Cathedral Cavern.

The frozen waterfall in Cathedral Cavern.

Fact #4: There are three levels of stalagmites in the Stalagmite Forest, which is around 3500 feet into the cavern. All of the third “room” of the cave is visible from the top of these falls.

Stalagmite forest in the Cathedral Cavern.

Stalagmite forest in the Cathedral Cavern.

Fact #5: The highest floor to ceiling point in the cave measures 123 feet and is just after Boulder Boulevard.

Cathedral Cavern

Cathedral Cavern in Alabama.

Video from Outdoor Alabama:

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Visit Cathedral Caverns in Alabama

Visitor information: http://www.alapark.com/cathedralcaverns/Cave%20Tour/

Acknowledgements

My thanks to Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association for hosting me on this NATJA post-conference trip.

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