Interested in taking an RV road trip to one of the most unique state parks in Alabama? If so, look no further than Cathedral Caverns State Park. Located only 30 minutes from the city of Huntsville, Cathedral Caverns State Park is known around the globe for the caverns that the park is named after. Formally known as Bat Cave and first opened to the public in the 1950s, the land that this incredible geological structure is found on was purchased by the state of Alabama in the late 1980s and was officially opened as a state park in 2000.
Cathedral Caverns State Park is on the smaller side with 493 acres available for visitors to explore, including many multi-use trails and picnic areas perfect for an afternoon grilling up your favorite meals. Nearly every visitor to the park will be fascinated by the cave that you can explore thanks to the group tours that are offered by the park. The cave holds many wonders, all starting with the grand entrance. Inside the cave, you will find one of the largest stalagmites, aptly named "Goliath." At a cool, but comfortable and constant temperature, of around 60 degrees exploring the cave is possible any time of the year.
There are only 13 RV-friendly sites at Cathedral Caverns State Park, all of which are available on a first-come, first-served basis. However, the campground also has more tent-only sites if you want to get out of the RV or there are also many private RV campgrounds in the area for you to choose from. The peak season at Cathedral Caverns State Park runs from April until October each year.
Driving to and from Cathedral Caverns State Park is relatively straightforward (so even beginner RV drivers will be able to do it), but there are a few things to be mindful of before you depart for your journey. The park features little cell phone reception, so if you need to use your phone as a GPS it can be difficult to do so once you are in an area with no reception.
The park should be fairly easy to find since it is located off Cathedral Caverns Road. There is one main entrance that can be accessed from the north or south end of Cathedral Caverns Road and this is also the road you will take to get to the campground. There are signs for the park from the nearby highway, so even though the park is small, you're unlikely to miss it.
If you need to get any supplies before your visit there are a few small towns located nearby that you should consider visiting. These include Grant (around five miles away), Woodville (around seven and a half miles away), and New Hope (around 15.5 miles away). The closest city to the park is Huntsville, which is around 31 miles to the northwest.
There is one main parking lot for day-use visitors to Cathedral Caverns State Park that is located in the northern corner near the Visitor Center. Since the caves are a very popular tourist destination the parking lot can fill up quite quickly during the peak season.
Cathedral Caverns State Park does have RV camping available; however, it is a little different from what most state parks have in the country. The campground does not take reservations before your arrival, so all sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis only.
Featuring one main loop, the Cathedral Caverns State Park Campground is on the smaller side, with a total of 13 sites available for you to choose from. All 13 sites come equipped with water and electric hookups, and they are also all back-in only. Campground-wide amenities that you can enjoy include a bathhouse and group activity area. There is no size limit restrictions for the park, but if you have a larger rig, it may be worth calling ahead to see if you will be able to stay here.
Before your arrival at the Cathedral Caverns State Park Campground, be prepared to bring leveling blocks since most of the sites aren't flat and don't rely on cell phone service since there is none in the area. Cathedral Caverns State Park Campground is open all year round.
Along with having RV-friendly sites, the campground at Cathedral Caverns State Park also features a primitive camping area suitable for tent-use only. All of the tent-only sites can only be used on a first-come, first-served basis since there is no reservation system for the campground.
Most of the sites in the primitive camping area do have some shade available, and they are also equipped with a fire ring. A few of the tent-only sites also come with a water collection point and you will also be able to use the bathhouse that is in the RV section of the campground.
Since the campground at Cathedral Caverns State Park is quite small and doesn't offer reservations you may arrive to find that all of the sites are occupied. If that is the case, there are plenty of alternative campgrounds located not too far from the park so you won't have to worry about having to stay outside of the area.
There are private RV parks and resorts in the nearby towns of Woodville and Scottsboro where you will be able to stay, including sites that are equipped with full hookups. Most of the private campgrounds in the area will be open all-year-round and offer reservations so you can guarantee that you will have a site waiting for you.
One of the major attractions that await you at Cathedral Caverns State Park is one of the world's largest stalagmite. This dazzling rock formation has been nicknamed "Goliath," and visitors come from far and wide to take a look at it. The stalagmite towers at 45 feet high and 243 feet wide and is a must-see for anyone interested in rock formations. Remember that you will have to book a cave tour to be able to see the stalagmite, and it is recommended that you book a tour in advance.
When you're looking to escape the heat of Alabama's summer, a Cave Tour is the perfect answer. These tours are scheduled all throughout the day, meaning you have plenty of opportunities to explore. The cave is also wheelchair-accessible, so everyone can get an in-depth look at this part of the state. A list of tour times and prices is provided online and at the park, so you will be able to plan your tour before your arrival.
When visiting the caverns, you can't help but want to snap a few photos of the spectacular formations and geological splendor. The cave, though fairly dark, is illuminated in such a way that visitors are able to witness all sorts of these formations without having to strain or pop-off 'flash' for every intended subject. There are several locations where you'll surely want to stop for a few photos, such as the Cathedral Caverns' astounding entrance, the "frozen" waterfall, the stalagmite forest, and the famed "Goliath."
Even if you don't plan on spending the night, the grounds around Cathedral Caverns are the perfect summertime location to spend the whole day. After a morning tour, a leisurely picnic is a perfect way to pick up your energy levels and discuss the day's findings. The picnic setting is fairly standard but comfortable. With plenty of shade, you'll be able to escape the sun, but that's still no contest to the always-cool caverns. Picnic areas tend to be quite popular with larger groups and families and are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis.
While the caverns of Cathedral Caverns State Park are the central focus for most visitors of the grounds, the rest of the surrounding landscape has more for guests to explore. The fun doesn't need to end when the cave tour does. There are four trails marked as blue, red, yellow, and green routes. Each of the loops circle in about a mile-long stretch, and they vary in difficulty level. Guests of all hiking abilities will be able to find a trail suitable for their skill level.
Cathedral Caverns State Park is in an ideal location not just for traveling around on two feet, but two wheels too. There are four loops suitable for bike riding to choose from, each only circling a little over a mile. Although the loops are short, they do intertwine, which makes for a leisurely ride through the Alabama countryside. There are no guarantees that any bike rentals will be available at the park, so it is recommended that you bring your own.
Your first stop upon arrival to the Cathedral Caverns State Park should be at the Visitor Center. The center is open to visitors looking to take a little more away from the experience of the state park. Gemstones and souvenirs are available for you to purchase, as well as light snacks and drinks. The center is open all year round so no matter what time you visit there will be a friendly member of the park staff available to answer any questions you may have.
For a slight added fee, guests of Cathedral Caverns State Park can continue the fun with their own gem panning experience. The park's store offers pre-filled bags, full of gemstones and various fossils, for guests to sift through. The fun is in the mystery, as you never quite know what you're going to uncover. This activity is one that guests of any age will enjoy and is a great way to make the most of your visit to the park.