Cathedral Caverns State Park -
Originally called Bat Cave, Cathedral Caverns was opened to the public by Jacob Gurley in the 1950s. The cave was renamed because of its cathedral-like appearance. Purchased by the state in 1987, it was opened as a State Park in the summer of 2000. The first feature most people notice about Cathedral Caverns is its massive entrance. The huge opening measures 126 feet wide and 25 feet high, a possible world record for commercial caves.
Cave tours are scheduled throughout the day and the cave is wheelchair accessible. In addition to cave tours, Cathedral Caverns State Park also features gemstone mining, an activity for any age, but especially popular with younger visitors. A bag or bucket of mining dirt (seeded with either rough cut gemstones or fossils) is purchased and then sifted through running water in custom-made flumes. You can identify your finds using the gemstone identification display.
Visit the Cathedral Caverns website for more information.
Rickwood Caverns State Park -
If you’re looking for a fun and exciting destination to cool down this summer, pack up the family and take off to Rickwood Caverns State Park in Warrior, Ala., just north of Birmingham.
What makes Rickwood Caverns State Park unique is the massive cave that contains 260-million-year-old formations that were created by water and reveal evidence that the cave was carved from an ocean bed. And if you’re looking to cool off from the sweltering summer temperatures, the underground wonder maintains a constant 58-62 degree temperature as you travel 175 feet beneath the earth.
The main attraction is the guided tour. Rickwood Caverns State Park also offers a gift shop, picnicking, gemstone mining, camping, playground, and hiking the Fossil Mountain Hiking Trail, which got its name from the leaf and seashell imprints visible in some of the rocks. The park features an Olympic-size swimming pool, fed by chilly waters from the cave. There’s also a kiddie pool.
Visit the Rickwood Caverns State Park for more information.