Editor’s Note: During this period of social distancing, Group Tour magazine will continue to provide group travel inspiration. Many attractions and destinations are closed at this time; please contact them directly for updated information. 

With a colorful history and one of the largest accumulations of onyx-marble stalagmites and stalactites in the world, DeSoto Caverns is a stand-out among caves.

“Scientifically, the caverns boast the largest accumulation of gemstone quality onyx in the nation,” said Joy Sorenson, president/director of marketing at the caverns.

DeSoto Caverns, located in Childersburg, Alabama, and considered America’s first cave, was first described to President George Washington by agent Benjamin Hawkins in 1796. 

“It’s a fantastic place for people to go who love history or have a fascination with stories,” Sorenson said.

A mastodon bone and 2,000-year-old Native American bones dating from the Woodland period were found in the caverns.  That’s among the earliest evidence of man found in the nation, Sorenson said.

Soldiers made gunpowder in the caverns during the Civil War, and moonshine was produced there during the Prohibition. Others used it as a honky-tonk.

“There’s just a lot of wild stories inside the cave that are all actually historically documented,” Sorenson said. “It’s not just legend. It’s a lot of fact.”

Hour-long tours include a laser light, sound and water show and a stop in the Cathedral Room — described as having healing properties by ancient Native Americans.

DeSoto Caverns
Formation, DeSoto Caverns
Credit: Courtesy of DeSoto Caverns

Located in the Family Fun Park, DeSoto Caverns offers more than 20 attractions including a maze, water golfing, cave wall climbing and archery. Visitors can also pan for gems and dig for crystals.

Desoto Caverns is very group-friendly.  “We believe group tours should be easy,” Sorenson said. “We really cater to groups and make sure they have a specific, wonderful experience.”

Packages bundling caverns tour tickets and tickets to various attractions are available. Visitors can even spend the night in the caverns.

“We have groups that’ll book more than 10 attractions,” Sorenson said. “There are a lot of options. It makes a wonderful all-day excursion.”

Groups of 15 or more get discounts. Free parking is available. DeSoto Caverns comps the group leader.

For more on DeSoto Caverns call 256-378-7252, ext. 3 or go to desotocavernspark.com.

Article by Kathie Sutin