Summer vacation is my favorite time of the year. It is when the restrictions of travel are lifted for my children and we are free to go where the wind blows us!
Last summer I decided to take the kiddos on mini field trips to keep things exciting and to explore the fun places that North Alabama and the surrounding areas have to offer. One of the excursions last summer was to Cathedral Caverns in Grant, AL.
The drive to Grant, located in Marshall County, is relatively short and can easily be accomplished in half of a day. From Hampton Cove the drive is just over thirty minutes, not even long enough for a chorus of “are we there yet?”
Once you are there you need to plan for about 1.5 hours for the cave tour and 20-30 minutes if you choose to do the gem mining. One thing I wish that I had planned for is to take a picnic lunch. There is a playground and picnic area which would have served as a beautiful location for lunch. Had we brought lunch we might have had time to explore some of the hiking trails that are part of Cathedral Caverns State Park.
After paying our entrance fee ($13 per adult, $6 per child over 5) we eagerly awaited our turn to enter the widest entranced of any commercial cave in the world. Our tour guide quickly built a rapport with the kids and adults alike. I fell in love with the cool air that I felt immediately when entering the cave.
For me one of the best features is the constant temperature of 57-60 degrees, especially in the summer with humidity and extreme temperature in Alabama. The kids (age 7) at the time never grew bored during our tour. Our guide asked questions, involved them in the tour and shared interesting facts about the cave. They were very attentive because they wanted a chance to answer a question or to help along the way. He had them imagine how Mr. Gurley felt excavating the cave in almost complete darkness, often spending hours without food, because he was so mesmerized by this natural wonder.
This is a great destination for children of all ages. Perhaps a great day trip with out of town guests to show off North Alabama. The cave path is paved and safe. There are a few wet, potentially slippery areas but the guide makes note of these and there are hand rails in place for additional safety. The path is wheelchair and stroller accessible. There is a section at the end of the cave where the lights get turned off and you are in complete darkness for about 3-5 minutes. This may be of concern for smaller children.
If You Visit
- Bring a light jacket
- Bring a camera
- Wear comfortable walking shoes with a non-skid sole in case the cave is wet
- Pack a picnic so that you can stay and explore a little longer
If you come to Grant via Hwy 72, you may choose to go home an alternate route thru Grant. If you choose do this and have a few more hours to spend I suggest you explore the town of Guntersville. Visit the original Mike’s Merchandise , explore the Guntersville Museum and for a wonderful meal stop at The Rock House Eatery. I would suggest the morning at Catheral Caverns with a picnic lunch and an hour or two to explore the hiking trails. Then I would make my way to Guntersville to explore the quaint downtown and finish off the day with dinner outside at the Rock House.
Main Photo Credit: Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association