If your family loves to get underground and explore, two caves in northeast Alabama should be your next RV camping destination. Only fifty miles apart, Russell Cave National Monument and Cathedral Caverns State Park will teach the kids about ancient civilizations and also thrill them with first-class natural wonders. Use our handy guide to camping and caving to plan your trip.
How to Get There
Russell Cave National Monument, in Bridgeport, Alabama, is a 45-minute drive from Chattanooga, TN on I-24W. It’s also only 2 hours south of Nashville on I-24E. Once you’ve explored to your heart’s content at this cave, head one hour south to Grant, Alabama on AL-2 and US-72 to find Cathedral Caverns.
What Will We See?
The attraction at Russell Cave is history! North America’s earliest inhabitants left clues to their cultures in this large shelter in the rocky face of Montague Mountain. The visitor center and museum houses excellent exhibits of the prehistoric artifacts archaeologists have unearthed on-site. The cave tour itself is restricted to the shelter just inside the cavern’s entrance, but it’s an easy hike and well worth the trip.
Take the time to take the cavern tour, check out the exhibits and videos at the museum and have a picnic on the park grounds. Teach the youngsters even more about nature with a hike along the North Alabama Birding Trail and a stroll through the park’s Wildflower Meadow. If the kids haven’t entered the National Park Service Junior Ranger Program at another national park, this would be a great place to start.
When you head south to Cathedral Caverns State Park, get ready to experience a wonderland of giant rock formations. From the enormous cavern entrance to record breaking collections of stalactites, stalagmites and other structures formed over the eons, there’s plenty to see and enjoy throughout the cave. Cave tours run seven days a week, every two hours beginning at 10 a.m. Young ones may also want to try their luck at finding gems in the ‘mining’ area and hiking the trails throughout the park’s picturesque setting.
Where to Camp?
There’s nothing quite like coming home to RV comfort after an exciting day of exploring underground! If you arrive early in the day at Cathedral Caverns, you may be able to snag one of the first-come, first-served water and electric campsites at the park. There are also several campgrounds within easy driving distance—Lake Guntersville State Park, just thirty minutes away, has a large RV campground and reasonable rates. You’ll find more information here about Alabama RV campgrounds.
Bonus Tip: Other Northeast Alabama Caves
Did you know that the rugged mountains and hollows of Alabama have more caves per mile than just about anywhere in the US? It’s true, and that’s why we wanted to give you more ideas for extending your Alabama camping and caving adventure.
If you’re camping at Lake Guntersville, take the Cave Trail to find a cozy little cavern along the way. For families on an extended trip, head south two hours to DeSoto Caverns Family Fun Park for a day of adventure and a night of full-service RV camping on the grounds. Rickwood Caverns State Park near Birmingham also offers a small on-site campground and a cave tour that takes you and the youngsters seventeen stories below ground!
A trip to visit the caves of northeast Alabama means family fun time in exciting natural settings. Camping in an RV means comfort, safety and convenience while you’re there. Start planning this year’s caving and camping trip now and don’t forget to post your memories here in our comments section!
Photo credit: nps.gov