Lose yourself in “Alabama’s Big Cave” in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
The DeSoto Caverns is a series of caves in Childersburg, Alabama. The caverns have quite a history dating back to the early Native Americans. Considered peaceful and protective burial sites, these caves were often used by Native Americans to bury their dead. A burial site of five Native Americans was discovered in the DeSoto Caverns by an archaeologist team in 1965, which has since been relocated. The caverns’ name comes from Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, whose 1540 expedition marked the beginning of recorded European history in Alabama. Near the end of the Civil War, the DeSoto Caverns were mined for saltpeter, used to make gunpowder, and was purchased in 1912 as an onyx mine, though this project was never carried through.
During the prohibition period, an illegal speakeasy was opened in the cavern, which quickly became known as “The Bloody Bucket” because of the frequent fights that broke out among its patrons. In the 1960s, the cave was repurposed as a show cave with high-powered electrical lights to show off all the colorful onyx within the caverns. The attraction was initially named KyMulga Onyx Cave after a group of Chickasaw Indians who had established the village of KyMulga a few miles away. The caverns changed hands once again in 1975. New lights, widened pathways, and other improvements were added to the caverns, and its name changed to DeSoto Caverns, as it is now known.
The DeSoto Caverns’ history now features attractions such as laser light and water show, panning for gemstones, a cantina, playground, amusement park rides, a climbing wall, guided tours, and more -- all within the walls of the enormous caverns. There are also camping facilities in the area. The caverns are open from 10 am - 4:30 pm Friday and Saturday, and 11 am - 4:30 pm on Sunday. Tickets are $50 for adults and $45 for children and senior citizens.