Hiking with Hailey: Rickwood Caverns

Hiking with Hailey: Rickwood Caverns

WARRIOR, Ala. (WSFA) - Each week, we’ve taken you through the twists and turns throughout the forests of our various state parks. But this week, we decided to change things up. We went underground to visit the Rickwood Caverns State Park!

Located in Warrior, Alabama, the cave was discovered two centuries ago.

The Rickwood Caverns were discovered in the 1800s. The park was purchased by the state in the 1950s.
The Rickwood Caverns were discovered in the 1800s. The park was purchased by the state in the 1950s. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“Rickwood Caverns State Park became a state park in 1974, but the cave itself was discovered in the late 1800s by the family that used to own the land,” said park manager Amanda White. “Mr. Burns was hunting with his dog, and the dog ran into the hole. Of course, he went after his dog and discovered the cave. Then in the 1950s, Mr. Eddie Rickles sort of rediscovered the cave, thought it was just too amazing to let it pass by the way. He got his Boy Scout troop from Fultondale. They mined it out and blasted it open.”

And thanks to their hard work, this expansive secret maze became available for visitors to enjoy.

“The Lover’s Leap” at Rickwood Caverns.
“The Lover’s Leap” at Rickwood Caverns. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

“Besides the geological history of the cave, there is just this sense of awe and wonder. It’s a living history book almost,” said White. “You can almost see through the stones the story of time and how things happened here and what our history was millions of years ago. And it’s 60 degrees inside the cave year-round, so it’s even better!”

Over time, the groundwater evaporates, leaving behind sediment that eventually turn into the beautiful cave features you see today, such as stalactites and stalagmites. Throughout the tour, there are dozens of small crevices that hold secrets of the cave's rich history.

You can find a variety of rock formations inside the cave, including different stalactite and stalagmite structures.
You can find a variety of rock formations inside the cave, including different stalactite and stalagmite structures. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

One particular hallway is called the “cemetery room,” but not because of any dead bodies; staff have found several fossils in the space.

If the rock formations and fossils resonate with you, you can make them a part of your special day by holding your nuptials in the Bridal Column Room!

“We still host weddings today. It’s a great way to have a summer wedding in Alabama and beat the heat, as well as you’re not really going to get rained out,” said White. “You might get a few drips, but it’s good luck - it’s a cave kiss when you get dripped on in cave, but it’s good luck.”

But don’t be surprised if a couple of cave critters crash the party. Rickwood Caverns State Park is home to creatures such as cave crickets, salamanders, spiders and tricolor bats. The cave lake is also known to house albino crawfish.

A crystal clear cave lake is nestled at the end of the tour, and is home to tiny albino crawfish!
A crystal clear cave lake is nestled at the end of the tour, and is home to tiny albino crawfish! (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Like many other caves around the world, Rickwood was carved by a large body of water. Walking through the many hallways, you can see the coral reefs that have been preserved for centuries.

“At one point this walkway we’re on would have been much higher, and the water would have forced its way through this flow-zone, and you can really see how it’s really carved out through all of that,” said White. “It’s amazing how powerful the water would have been just cutting through this rock over thousands and millions of years even.”

The deeper you go into the cave, the more wondrous it becomes. From the King’s Room, to the Queen’s Room, and everything in between, there’s so much to see at the Rickwood Caverns.

The views of the Queen’s Room are some of the most beautiful formations in the cave.
The views of the Queen’s Room are some of the most beautiful formations in the cave. (Source: WSFA 12 News)

However, once the tour is over, and you're done walking through the cave, the hard part comes: climbing 110 stairs back to the top.

The park is open from 9 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Cave tours are about an hour long, and happen every day at 10:00, 12:00, 2:00, and 4:00. The cost is $18 for adults and $9 for children.

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