Spelunking in Stephen's Gap, AL
Yesterday we took half a day off from work to explore and it felt like a little mini vacation all wrapped up in just a few hours! Our super generous marina let us use their courtesy vehicle to do some caving/spelunking! We first went to Cathedral Caverns and did a 90 minute guided tour. The ceilings were so tall and the formations were very beautiful! Very impressive! These tours always feel a bit touristy to me, but it is nice being able to see the caves lit up. This tour was also very accessible to those that can't get around as easily. There are paved paths that are pretty even for the most part.
Afterwards, we went to a place called Stephen's Gap in Woodville, AL to do some moe authentic caving on our own! We had to obtain approval and a permit from a local organization to access their private property on our own where the cave is located. After being approved for the permit, they emailed us a gate code to access the property. There is a small, grassy parking area and then about a mile hike back to the cave entrance.
The terrain was rocky and ended up being a pretty strenuous hike in! It was gorgeous though and we kept seeing little lizards scuffling up trees along the way.
There were also some really neat plants that we had never seen.
Eventually, we reached the cave entrance and it was AMAZING!!
There was one opening to climb/hike down in or for the really adventurous, another opening to rappel down into. We didn't have gear for that, so we opted for the only other option - the hike-in route.
There was a memorial at the top for a man who had tragically fallen in the upper opening 3 years ago and it really made us think twice about being extra careful as we proceeded.
The inside of the cave made for some incredible photos! The two different entrances let just enough light in to show the dramatic cliffs inside. There was one rock under the upper opening that looked like it came straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where they did human sacrifices It was extremely slippery on the rocks as there was a waterfall inside the cave, so we took our time maneuvering around, but it was so worth the hike in and climb up to the rock platform. It was definitely easier climbing up than down!!
After awhile of taking it all in, we climbed back out and hiked back to the van. Such a fun day!
So many people who we have met along the way barely scratch the surface of an area because they hardly venture outside of the marinas and end up missing so much! We have made it our mission to find things off the beaten path along this trip and this was a perfect example of something incredible only 15 minutes away that few know of!! Such a soul satisfying day!