DeSoto Caverns

Adventure through Alabama’s Bicentennial from the Underground

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Why not celebrate our state’s 200th anniversary by exploring America’s most historic cave? Transport yourself through one of the rare sites where you are submerged in the roots of Alabama history. Immerse yourself in the sounds, sights and wonders that previous generations have cherished as a shelter, a source of adventure, or as an extraordinary exploration of nature. Whether you are excited about visiting Alabama's Passport Site List, passionate about cultural locations, or interested in historical sites, DeSoto Caverns offers a unique perspective on our state’s history. Although DeSoto Caverns’ history predates both Alabama’s statehood and America’s independence from England, the Caverns has also played a consistent role throughout significant events of the state of Alabama’s history.

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During the Civil War, DeSoto Caverns became a unique location for manufacturing gunpowder. The privacy of the Caverns, as well as the nitrate-rich supply of bat guano and the spring-fed well in the back of the caverns, made an excellent location for creating the gunpowder. During a tour within DeSoto Caverns guests can still see the original well dug by the Confederate soldiers and learn about how the soldiers produced gunpowder within the beautiful cathedral room.

History.com includes DeSoto Caverns in the top interesting facts regarding Alabama’s history. “The DeSoto Caverns near the city of Birmingham, which contain a 2,000-year-old Native American burial site, served as a clandestine speakeasy with dancing and gambling during Prohibition.” Back in the 1920’s DeSoto Caverns was transformed into the “Cavern Tavern.”  This honky-tonk soon gained a negative reputation as an out of control speakeasy and earned the new name “the bloody bucket.” Learn more about DeSoto Caverns’ colorful history during your historical tour at DeSoto Caverns.

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Alabama’s state history includes many dynamic individuals, including our very own Women’s Hall of Famer, Ida Mathis. Ida Mathis purchased the caverns in 1920 and the caverns are still run by her family today. In her installation into Alabama’s Women’s Hall of fame, it was said that she “saved Alabama” and was “the greatest woman farmer in the United States.” She was heralded as the “Economic Moses of the South” and in the 1917 issue of American Magazine she was declared as being “worth $20,000,000 to the state of Alabama.”  She educated "Cotton State" farmers who were suffering from the depletion of nutrients in their soil and were no longer yielding healthy crops. She was able to transition Alabama from being a one crop state to utilizing the scientific method of crop rotation. She was also the first woman ever selected to head a state organization of farmers. “John Skelton Williams, Comptroller of the Currency, Washington, D.C. told her that with her credit system she had done more toward winning the War than any other person in the United States.” We are certainly proud to have this incredible woman’s legacy as a piece of the DeSoto Caverns’ history.

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One piece of Alabama history many people do not know about is the Alabama gold rush. It was overshadowed by the California gold rush but had a significant boom within the goldmines of Goldville, Alabama where it is estimated that over $50 million dollars worth of gold was found during the 1820’s 30’s and 40’s. DeSoto Caverns re-lives this unique piece of Alabama history through their panning for gemstones attraction, which includes pyrite as a reminder of this shiny historic moment.

As a part of your journey to embark on an Alabama exploration, don’t miss visiting DeSoto Caverns for a unique perspective on Alabama’s rich history. Step into an adventure that tells a story and shares the heart of a great state. If you own a bicentennial passport, don’t miss getting your passport stamped at DeSoto Caverns today!


DeSoto Caverns, A Historic Shelter

DeSoto Caverns Healing All Cathedral

Along with the world, we are rejoicing today that the Thai soccer team has emerged from their “wild cave" exploration to receive treatment and rejoin their families. This event has sparked both suspense and hope in the hearts of caring people around the world. We are thrilled and celebrating today as the Thai Navy SEALs successfully rescued the 12 boys and their coach. With the many individuals who have been closely watching this rescue mission, the caverns community has been in conversation and prayer for the excellent news we’ve received today. We’ve also been focused on educating the public regarding caverns safety and specifically the differentiation between wild caves and show caves.

In order to bring more understanding to how this situation in Thailand began, it’s important to know the difference between wild caves and show caves. We’ll begin with the basics of the definitions of wild caves versus show caves. Show caves are defined as caves which have been made accessible to the public for guided visits, but wild caves are defined as caves that have few or no provisions which make it easy for the general public to visit. The show caves of America have many procedures in place in order to make your visit into this unique natural environment safe.  The Thai soccer team went exploring within some wild caves in Thailand that were not open to the public, the team had no knowledgeable guide, and they had no provisions to make the expedition safe. This kind of excursion is illegal in America, as caves are protected natural resources and also going into a cavern without granted access is trespassing. Journeying into a show cave is as different from an expedition into a wild cave as taking a walk up a hill is different than climbing Mount Everest. We understand that just as mountains are unique with different obstacles or levels of difficulty, caverns are also unique and knowing the difference between taking a tour and going on a wild cavern expedition is important when discussing cave safety.

 Al Mathis, CEO: “If there ever were any kind of emergency, you would find me running into the cave for shelter, not away from it.”

Al Mathis, CEO: “If there ever were any kind of emergency, you would find me running into the cave for shelter, not away from it.”

Now that we’ve addressed the difference between wild caves and show caves, it’s important to know more about how safe DeSoto Caverns is as a show cave. DeSoto Caverns has been a shelter cave for over 2,000 years of human history, which is longer than any standing building in the US! DeSoto Caverns is the most historic cave in the United States featuring mastodon bones, a Native American habitation, and is the first cave on record in the US, thanks to one of George Washington’s Native American Scouts in 1796. This cave has served as a haven for a variety of people as well as animals throughout history and currently offers a safe tour which includes no steps, feels cool (60° year-round), has never flooded since its creation. It also has excellent air quality, which is why the Native Americans called our largest room the “Healing All Cathedral.”  This first room is larger than a football field and the ceiling is high enough to fit a 12 story building in it. A small car can be driven into the cave and at no time are guests more that 200 yards from the entrance. Owner Al Mathis has commented “If there ever were any kind of emergency, you would find me running into the cave for shelter, not away from it.”

Our hope is that as people are educated about how diverse caves are, they will understand the safe environment show caves provide and will also know the risk involved in exploring wild caves. We hope we have the opportunity to host your future safe adventure within this historic beautiful natural shelter.


Home Sweet Home 2018 - Food, Music, and Family Fun

Right now at DeSoto Caverns, our team is working hard to prep for our 2nd Annual Home Sweet Home, a Food & Music Festival. We are eagerly awaiting the event, which will take place on June 30 & July 1 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For many families across the United States, Independence Day is much more than just another day off work. It’s a time to honor the unity and freedom our Nation stands for. It’s also a time to cherish those closest to you.

Between the flashy fireworks and tasty barbeque, it is easy to overlook the reason we celebrate. We want to bring light to our country’s journey to get to this point in history. Too frequently we fail to remember the members of our military who put their lives on the line for our incredible nation so that some of us never had to. Independence Day is a day for all Americans to stand as one and show their pride. There really is something so powerful about millions of people standing together and embracing our country's unity.

We invite you to join us in fostering new memories with your family and friends while celebrating the freedom our Nation represents. This is the perfect time to commemorate our country’s past, present, and future through friendship, entertainment, and cuisine.

As we’re preparing for the second round of Home Sweet Home, we’re reflecting on all the fantastic memories made last year. We were thrilled with last years turnout, and know none of it would have been possible without our wonderful vendors, performers, staff, and guests. However, our most treasured remembrance from last year’s event was seeing all the smiling faces and the memories being made. Sometimes the best things in life are the memories you make with the people you love—and this is exactly what we want our guests to take away from Home Sweet Home.

This year, our park will be bursting with lively entertainment from passionate performers and artists as well as delectable treats from local food trucks.

Last year guests enjoyed fantastic performances from Jessica Baker, Keegan Bost, and Casey Thrasher—and we can’t wait to have them accompany us once again! We are also thrilled to have two additional musicians, Justin Cross and Tayllor Hanson, performing this year. Learn more about our artists and listen to samples of their music here

We are ecstatic to have Todd Key, who is always a crowd-pleaser with his unbelievable juggling while on stilts skills, perform again. This year, comedy and entertainment expert Carrie McQueen will be joining in on the fun. These two are a duo you won’t want to miss.

You can take a break from the heat and delight in savory food from Chick-Fil-A, Nelchie’s Cajun or Cabrone’s Tacos, or indulge in a refreshing treat from the Repicci’s Italian Ice & Gelato truck.

Whether it’s the tunes drifting throughout the park, the divine smells of local food trucks or the mind-blowing acts from our numerous entertainers, there is something for every member of the family to enjoy! We look forward to seeing you at DeSoto Caverns July 30th - July 1st. Home Sweet Home will certainly make for a memorable Independence Day spent celebrating our country’s freedom.

Learn more about our entertainers and purchase your tickets here.


Group Camping in the Cave

For those groups seeking something beyond the ordinary, look no further than an overnight stay in the mesmerizing DeSoto Caverns. Many have camped, but few can say they've camped in the depths of the earth.

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Summer is just around the corner and whether you’re part of a youth group, Boy Scout or Girl Scout troop, or planning a church group excursion, we have the ultimate outdoor/indoor experience!  And don’t worry about traveling too far, we are located just 36 miles southeast of Birmingham down Highway 280.

This is one of the greatest camping experiences as it maximizes your capacity to enjoy the wonder while also experiencing the beauty of the caverns' sounds people have enjoyed for thousands of years.

Don’t worry about being too disconnected from the outside world, either. We provide amenities such as outlets to blow up air mattresses and WiFi to keep friends and family updated during your stay. The cave can be dark at night so we recommend bringing a flashlight or lantern. While many caves drop to very low temperatures, our cave is sixty degrees year round which also makes it an excellent, temperate place to enjoy your stay.

With any of our overnight packages, you’ll be able to spend 12 hours in the cave and take an extended lantern-lit tour of the caverns. On the tour, you will learn about the prehistoric Indians that lived and died in the caverns, Confederate soldiers that mined gunpowder, early Indian traders that visited, and moonshine making during prohibition times. You will also be able to enjoy our flashlight maze attraction during your stay.  

Additional packages let you choose more attractions from our 20+ “wacky” attractions, including our Panning for Gemstones, Wall Climb, and the always popular Cannon Wars. And if your group would enjoy a unique meal experience, we provide a hot dog roast over campfires in the evening and breakfast pastries, cereal and fruit with our Legendary Overnight and Epic Overnight experiences.

You can also enjoy a delicious treat from the Cave Café during your stay. We’ve chosen to partner with local, quality companies in order to provide and serve incredible food and drink options that contribute to making memorable moments. You can also bring a souvenir home from our gift shop!

We think our overnight cave experience is great, but don’t take our word for it. Here are what customers have said about camping with us!


“We were there on a school field trip and stayed overnight in the cave. The kids loved the entire experience. The games and activities outside kept them occupied for hours. The tour guides were great with the kids, very patient and so nice with all of them. The kids learned so much on the cave tour and really loved all the one on one interaction.” - Angie

“Our Boy Scout Troop 1513 from Atlanta (Union City, GA) had a great time. The cavern was wonderful and spending the night in the cave was probably the coolest thing for the boys.” - Monique

“We took our scouts to do an overnighter in the cavern....our boys had a blast and we had an amazing set of guides.  What an amazing adventure. Thank you Desoto Caverns” - Eric

 

We guarantee a night unlike any other. For pricing information and FAQs about staying overnight in the caverns, visit here.