Beating The Heat
With the thermometer likely to break the century mark again this summer, DeSoto Caverns Park offers families a cool reprieve from the blistering sun.Starting with the cave, which is always 60 degrees, visitors can take a one-hour tour in the dark confines of one of Alabama’s favorite family destinations. Besides getting a break from the punishing heat, the kids will get a science and history lesson to boot. They’ll learn about prehistoric Indians that lived and died in the caverns, Confederate Soldiers that mined gunpowder there, early Indian traders that visited, and moonshine making during prohibition times.The tour takes visitors on a half-mile trek through the two-story high “Great Onyx Cathedral ” and connecting caverns. It winds its way past stalagmite and stalactite formations that conjure up images of elegant draperies and angelic choirs. The living history and science lesson also includes a spectacular laser light, sound and water show.Once outside, the family can indulge in the park’s cool-down regimen, which includes water attractions designed to give the young at heart a good drenching.For starters, there’s the ever-popular Water Balloon Battle, where two opposing teams slosh it out from their respective battle stations. Or, grab a squirt-gun at the Squirt Gun Maze and douse your nearest competitor while trying to escape.If guests aren’t soaked by then, a trip through Water Dodge will do it. The family will have a blast going through the maze that has over 150 motion-detector water fountains that try to soak you every step of the way through.Wacky Water Golf is right next door, challenging putters to get their ball in the hole without getting wet. For those who prefer to get just their hands wet, there’s gemstone panning under the shaded canopy. Those who are lucky might just come away with some rubies, emeralds or other semi-precious stones.Other Desoto Caverns attractions include peddle go-carts, simulated cave crawling and wall climbing, an obstacle course, an inflatable slide and cave, wacky basketball and an archery game.After conquering the cave and the 19 outside attractions, guests can duck inside DeSoto Caverns Park’s log cabin gift shop that’s filled with an assortment of souvenirs, Indian regalia, Spanish swords, postcards and the like.
If the kids are hungry, they can feast on sandwiches, soft drinks and chips as well as homemade fudge and ice cream at the snack bar. The park also offers campgrounds and scenic picnic areas, located near waterfalls, streams and ponds.Desoto Caverns Park is located 36 miles southeast of Birmingham down Hwy. 280, in Childersburg. The park is open year-round, except Thanksgiving and Christmas. Summer hours are 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday, and 1 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. The last tour of the caverns leaves at closing. For more information on the DeSoto Caverns Park call (800) 933-2283 or visit the website at www.DeSotoCavernsPark.com.