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Ultimate Guide to Manitou Cave, Alabama (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Ultimate Guide to Manitou Cave, Alabama (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

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Manitou Cave is a famous cave near the town of Fort Payne in Alabama. The cave had a significant role in the Civil War and was also a designated fallout shelter during the Cold War. It first opened as a tourist destination in 1888. It remained open as a public park through the early 20th century.

It had its share of neglect but was again reopened in 1963. The public can access the cave, and private companies conduct tours. 

Ultimate Guide to Manitou Cave, Alabama (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Manitou Cave, Alabama

The cave has ancient geological origins and a rich history. While inside the cave, you will be amazed to see the sacred Cherokee syllabary inscriptions and stand beside the Great Spirit Mountain, a natural formation within the cave. The inside of the cave is a place where you will find your inner peace with the sound of the gentle stream that flows through the cave. 

History of Manitou Cave 

The cave is at the foot of the Lookout Mountain within the ten acres of wooded land in Ft Payne. The cave is unique because of its exciting history and diverse geological formations that have attracted people for centuries. In the 1800s, the area was a Cherokee settlement known as Willstown. Sequoyah chose the place to work on the Cherokee syllabary. Richard Gist ventured into Manitou Cave and wrote inscriptions on the wall that captured the important events. 

After a few years, the US Military renamed Willstown as Ft Payne. It was a military stockade that held Cherokee people until they were moved to present-day Oklahoma. In the 1860s, the cave was mined for saltpeter for use by the Confederate Army during the Civil War. During the Cold War, the cave acted as a fallout shelter. The remnants of the fallout shelter can still be seen today. 

In the late 1800s, a large chamber in the cave was often used as a ballroom. People used to come here to listen to a band deep inside the cave. By the 1900s, it had become an established tourist attraction; in 1961, a modern visitor center was built. The historic center has been restored and now functions as an interpretive center. In this center, one can learn about the history of Manitou, the geological features, and the biodiversity of the cave. 

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Geological Cave Formations in Manitou Cave

This cave is famous for the fascinating geological formations inside of it. The most popular one is a large formation inside the cave that rises well over 40 ft in height, and it became a favorite attraction for tourists passing through the city. Apart from this, other geological formations are equally interesting. 

Wildlife in Manitou Cave 

The fragile biodiversity of the cave deserves special mention as it is unique. Apart from the common cave wildlife species like bats and salamanders, visitors would see a rare snail that cannot be found anywhere in the world. Known as the Manitou Cave Snail, the species relies on pure cave spring water for its existence. 

Is Manitou Caves Haunted?

The cave is fully open to the public, and there have never been any stories of ghost sightings or strange noises in or near the cave.

How Big is Manitou Cave?

Manitou Cave is relatively large as it takes around an hour to complete a full cave tour. The ceiling of the cave is a height of 50 ft. 

Ultimate Guide to Manitou Cave, Alabama (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)

Manitou Cave Tours

Entry is possible only when accompanied by a tour guide. Visitors might view certain common species like salamanders and bats when they step into the cave. Touching the cave’s limestone walls is strictly prohibited so that the historical record and the fragile ecosystem are fully protected. The entire pathway inside the cave has concrete steps and steel and wood bridges for the benefit of the visitors.

The Cherokee syllabary can be seen on some areas’ cave walls and the ceiling. After about 30 minutes of walking, the people will enter a huge chamber. This chamber has been marked as the turnaround point for the guests who are on group tours. The walk back to the opening of the cave takes approximately 30 minutes. 

Manitou Cave Tour Prices and Discounts

The tour is conducted only when the tour is confirmed by filling out the online form. The tour details can be known by writing to, and a minimum donation of USD 10 per person is required for the tour. 

Is Manitou Cave Cold?

The inside of the cave remains cool throughout the year, and it maintains a temperature of 56 degrees F all year round. 

What to Wear?

The path inside the cave is full of clay. So, one should bring appropriate footwear while visiting the cave. Boots and tennis shoes would be great, but slick-sole shoes and flip-flops are a strict no-no. The inside of the cave is, unfortunately, not lighted. Guests are advised to wear layered clothing as the interior is a bit cold. One should also bring a change of clothes as it might be necessary after the tour ends. 

Manitou Cave Hours

To learn the current hours write an email to the authorities at Manitou Cave.


What to Do at Manitou Cave (Beside Tours)

While the tour is the highlight of this region, afterward you can indulge in a bit of sightseeing and visit the nearby places such as 

  • DeSoto State Park
  • Little River Canyon Center
  • Have a sumptuous meal at Jefferson’s

Best Time to Visit Manitou Cave 

The temperature inside remains pleasant throughout the year. So one can visit this iconic cave at his convenience. 

How to Get to Manitou Cave

Manitou Cave is just a few blocks from downtown Ft Payne. This cave is easy to find because it is on the base of Lookout Mountain in the North Alabama region. 

Provide a safe bat habitat
Provide a safe bat habitat!

Hotels near Manitou Cave

The area near Manitou Cave has good accommodation facilities, and some of the remarkable properties are Days Inn by Wyndham Fort Payne, Quality Inn & Hampton Inn Fort Payne. 

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Places To Stay Nearby

Download our FREE Manitou Cave Guide (Unofficial) 

Visiting Manitou Cave

Do you need more information before visiting Manitou Cave? You can send a request to Them for an information packet. 

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