Tumbling Rock Cave is one of Alabama’s most unique natural wonders as it has over 6 beautiful miles of surveyed passageways.
This beautiful state is well known for its high densities of caves, but this one is one of the most unique.
Located in Jackson County, Alabama, it does require a permit, but it is well worth the time and effort because of its very unique features.
Tumbling Rock Cave has several very unique features’ that include it numerous stalactite and stalagmite formations, which is what helps to keep it so cool all the time.
It has a constant 58-degree temperature, which makes it very comfortable even in the very hot Alabama summers.
It also features an incredible 400-foot-tall shaft, which is known by the name “Topless Dome”.
But what really adds to its beauty is the flowing from this dome’s opening is a waterfall.
It also has over 6 gorgeous miles of surveyed passageways, that is tailored made for both beginner as well as experienced cave explorers.
The large trunk passage, commonly referred to as the “borehole”, is accompanied by a stream that runs almost its entire length.
It is interrupted by a series of multiple interesting passages, that have several rooms that are half filled with giant piles of large rocks.
Some of the passages can be explored as well, which can be very fun and challenging.
Some of the formations along the way and the stalagmites and stalactites they feature have names like the “Elephants Feet” and the “Christmas Tree”, because of their unique shapes.
Some of the other areas featured have formations referred to as the “Totem Gallery” and the “Little Hall of Mysteries.
The Topless Dome, the 400-foot-high waterfall that is features, is accessed via what is referred to as the “Kings Shower”.
However, what is not well known about Tumbling Rock Cave is that it was very active during the Civil War, with saltpeter mining which was used to manufacture gunpowder.
In fact, there are still remains in the cave of the mining operations via the form of large vats and evidence of soldier’s signatures on the walls.
Tumbling Rock Cave is located near Scottsboro Alabama and is one of the most popular horizontal caves in what is referred to as the TAF Corner geological region of the southeast.
The only known entrance to the Tumbling Rock Cave is on property that is leased by the Southeastern Cave Conservatory Inc., also known as the SCCI.
It is open every weekend to the public, and remains open despite the WNS scare, as there are reported to be less than 10 bats that currently live in the cave.
It is named for a large bolder that looks like it is precariously wedged between a ledge, which is overhanging, and the ceiling.
One of the most popular features of Tumbling Rock Cave is place called “Mt. Olympus, if you have the stamina and endurance to get there.
While it is a long way back, it is still not the very back of the cave, is the largest room in the natural beauty, called “Grant’s Tomb”.
Once you have been granted your permit, exploring Tumbling Rock Cave can be extremely exciting.
While some caves can be very difficult to navigate, this one can be very easy if you are organized and bring a map.
Once you have your permit and get to the preserve, you will need to get the gate code, which will open the entrance to the cave.
The entrance is only about chest-height, so you will need to duck down to get in, but once you are in, it gets very comfortable and easy to walk.
Finding your way is really quite easy, as you will make your way back to “Sugarloaf Mountain”, which is a 15-foot-tall dome shaped formation that has a very unique structure.
You than stay left and follow the long corridor about another 50 feet until you arrive at the “Elephant Room”.
This room features two very impressive 15-20 columns named so because it literally looks like these columns are holding the entire room from falling down.
Once you leave this room, Tumbling Rock Cave begins to expand with several different forks.
However, simply keep right, and it will take you to both the “Topless Dome” as well as “Mount Olympus”.
Arriving at the “Topless Dome” is about a full mile hike, and you will know you are getting close when you begin to hear water falling from a hole in the roof of the cave.
There is a large pile of rocks laid out as a marker, making it quite obvious and easy to identify.
You will then have to pull yourself up through a 3-foot-wide hole, which has a very gentle waterfall flowing through it.
You will get a little wet but will arrive at a gorgeous room that has a 396-foot shaft that you can only see if you have brought your headlamps with you.
Most cavers and hikers consider this to be the most impressive feature in the entire cave, as it can be absolutely breathtaking to see firsthand.
From there you can go about another 10 minutes before you arrive at the “Christmas Tree” room, which has a stalagmite that amazing looks just like a Christmas tree.
From there, if you still have the energy, near the end of the cave is another very impressive feature referred to a “Mount Olympus”.
This impressive structure is a 200-foot mountain inside the cave and is covered with very slick mud.
However, there is still more, again if you have the energy and stamina.
Along the passage to “Mount Olympus” there are two cracks which allow you access to a lower stream bed level.
One of these cracks allows you to jump over and open up into the “ante-room”.
You will need to be very careful, but there have been stairs cut into the first large room in this cave.
The back of this room is called “Sugar Loaf Mountain”, but you will again need to be extremely careful, as it can be very, very slick in places.
At the top of “Sugar Loaf Mountain” a large room opens up, and you will see some things you never imaged to see in a cave.
Visible on the walls is graffiti that is believed to date back as far as 1813, which has been fairly well documented.
It is believed that most of this graffiti was done by workers that were mining and looking for saltpeter, to make ammunition.
It is also believed that there was once a cable that ran across the room behind “Sugar Loaf Mountain” that helped to move the vats of salt pepper, once it was mined.
It is also believed this same area was again used in the 1860’s during the Civil War, for the exact same reason.
Tumbling Rock Cave is one of Alabama’s most precious natural wonders, and it makes a great day trip for you and your family.
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