Cathedral Caverns was originally called Bats Cave. Jacob (Jay) Gurley bought the cave in 1955 and opened it to the public. When he took his wife into the cave for the first time, she was struck by the beauty of one big room with all the stalagmites and stalactites and said that it looked like a "cathedral." Gurley wisely changed the name of the cave at that point and it has been known since then as Cathedral Caverns, although it has changed hands many times.
Cathedral Caverns became a state park in 1987. It includes 461 acres of land near Grant, Alabama. The Caverns reopened to the public in August 2000.
The cave now has a paved and lighted pathway that is 10 feet above the original path. The walk is a little over a mile for the round trip and takes an hour and 15 minutes. I found some of the hills challenging but not impossible. The walk DOWN the slopes was harder than UP! If you are in average health, the walk shouldn't be a problem. It is also wheelchair accessible.
The guides and employees of the park are friendly and informative. Eric Dobbins was our guide and provided a lot of valuable information about the history of the cave, the details of formations in the cave that were rare, and cave safety.
Cathedral Caverns Specs
Cathedral Caverns holds six world records:
- Cathedral Caverns has the widest entrance of any commercial cave in the world. It is 25 feet tall and 128 feet wide.
- Cathedral Caverns is home to "Goliath"--the largest stalagmite in the world. It measures 45 feet tall and 243 feet in circumstance.
- Cathedral Caverns has the largest flowstone wall, which is 32 feet tall and 135 feet long.
- Cathedral Caverns is known for the largest "frozen" waterfall.
- Cathedral Caverns has the largest stalagmite forest of any cave in the world.
- Cathedral Caverns has the most improbable formation in the world which is a stalagmite that is 35 feet tall and 3 inches wide!
Cathedral Caverns also has a Crystal Room which is not open to the public. The formations are made of pure white calcite and just the vibrations from someone's voice would shatter over 70 percent of the formations. Cathedral Caverns has a Big Room, which is 792 feet long and 200 feet wide.
This is a magnificent sight from nature and just a short 40 minutes from Huntsville. Even amateur cave lovers will find it interesting and worth a visit!
Be sure to check the website for the latest opening hours and prices.