DeSoto Caverns: An Alabama Gem
If you are looking for something fun and different to do for the last part of summer, head over to Childersburg, AL and spend a day exploring DeSoto Caverns. Childersburg is about 37 miles from Birmingham, and the park and grounds are currently open Thursdays through Mondays from 10:00 – 5:00. I took my two sons to the park and we had a great day exploring.
About the Caverns
DeSoto Caverns has a rich history that dates back thousands of years with Native Americans first using the caverns as a burial ground. In 1796, a letter was sent to George Washington describing the beauty of the caverns, which makes DeSoto Caverns the first recorded cave in American history. The caverns played a vital part of the Civil War when gunpowder was produced in the cavern. During prohibition times, moonshine was made there! A underground tavern was created which allowed guests to enjoy moonshine and dance the night away!
The cave has been in the Mathis family for over 100 years, and a tourist attraction since 1975. While there are attractions that have been around since my childhood in the 80’s, the Mathis family has updated attractions and brought in lots of new fun.
The grounds are well maintained, with patriotic music playing around the park. If it is hot outside, you will love the fact that the caverns are a constant 60 degrees year-round! It felt incredible in the cavern; a nice break from the heat and humidity outside.
Safety Adaptations for Covid-19
Everyone is concerned with Covid-19. To accommodate new CDC safety recommendations, Desoto Caverns has changed a few things. The first is the addition of the unlimited access wrist band. This reduces contact between people because no one has to check tickets before visiting attractions. The color of your band indicates the attractions you can choose from. The all inclusive gate ticket is $49.99 for adults and $44.99 for children from 4-11 and seniors. Children 3 and under are free. This ticket includes:
- guided cavern tour
- over a dozen unlimited attractions
- craft artisan demonstrations
- streetmosphere performances
- strolling entertainment
You can add lunch in for a discounted price of $10.99 online, and that includes a refillable drink mug that was a life saver for us! We purchased our tickets online ahead of time and all we had to do at the ticket booth was give the attendant our name. We selected our cavern tour time and given our wrist band. Easy peasy!
Desoto Caverns has also limited the number of people on tours of the cavern to 25 people, and placed hand sanitizing stations around the park. Social distancing markers have been placed around busier locations like the gift shop, and everyone is encouraged to maintain a safe distance while on the property. Our tour guide, Nathan, did a great job pointing out safe distances were we could stand. Masks are strongly encouraged throughout the park, and with current mandates in Alabama, they need to be worn when in groups, or inside buildings. We wore our masks throughout the tour.
We opted for the 11:30 tour which gave us plenty of time to check out the park attractions before we started our tour. When it was time, our group of 25 people were led into the caverns by Nathan. He did a fantastic job providing history of the caverns, while at the same time being funny and entertaining. Your first stop inside the caverns is the Cathedral room which is as tall as a 12 story building and longer than a football field. Very impressive!
After everyone is seated on benches, the lights are turned off and you will experience total darkness for just a moment. If you have little ones, don’t worry. It’s only for a few seconds!
After total darkness you are treated to a beautiful light and water show. When the light show is complete, your tour around the cavern will begin. You will be shown the caverns in an educational and fun way. There is so much history in an ancient cavern like DeSoto, and we enjoyed every second. When you can incorporate education, beautiful scenery and humor, you know you have a winner that can entertain a wide variety of ages!
DeSoto Caverns is handicap accessible, and strollers are allowed. Because some areas are steep, if you are in a wheelchair you need to make sure someone is there to assist you.
Bonus Tip: Make sure to wear comfortable shoes with good traction. The cave has lots of drips of water and areas can be slippery!
Make sure you give yourself plenty of time to explore the grounds, because there is so much to do! The unlimited tour is unlimited for everything listed below except for the guided cavern tour. You only get one of those!
- 1 hour guided Cavern Tour*
- Destiny Express Train ride
- DeSoto’s Lost Trail Maze
- Squirt Gun Lost Trail Maze
- Gemstone Panning
- Wacky Water Golf
- DeSoto’s Wall Climb
- Splash Pad
- Happy’s Hoops
- Crystal Find
- Cannon Wars
- Water Balloon Battle
- Bow and Arrow Shoot
- Explorer Ship
Family Friendly Fun
My family arrived at the park at 10:00 in the morning. After our cavern tour we enjoyed lunch from the gift shop. If you prefer, you can pack a picnic lunch and sit at one of the many tables set up on the grounds. There is a playground right next to the picnic tables, and a small creek kids can play in.
Throughout the day we had a blast mining for gemstones and did that 3 times! The kids loved the crystal find hut, and we left with some very large crystals.
If mazes are your thing, make sure you check out the DeSoto mazes. They are huge! We cooled off in the afternoon checking out the water gun maze. It was a hit! What kid doesn’t love shooting their mom with a water gun?
Our last hoorah before leaving the park was letting the boys have water balloon battles and playing in the splash pad.
It was the perfect way to cool off, and a great ending to a super fun day! We played hard for hours, and finally left at 3:00. We would have stayed longer if my boys had their way. This mama was hot and tired! We had a wonderful time exploring DeSoto Caverns and would definitely recommend it for a fun, family outing. Check it out if you are in the area!