Day 181: We Went Spelunking In A Wild Cave


time of year

Hillcrest Orchard, Ellijay, GA. Lots of tasty looking apples and related baked goods, and activities for the kids out back. We got some delicious sugar-free, preservative-free, dried apples.


Tumbling Waters Trail, Ellijay, GA. A short easy walk to tumbling waters.


difficulty: 1.5

Pettyjohn’s Cave, Chickamauga, GA. You do need a permit to come here. You can get one here Visit Pettyjohn’s Cave is located on the east side of Pigeon Mountain. It contains 6.5 miles of underground trails within Pigeon Mountain and reaches a depth of 235 feet. There are multiple rooms, 150’ crawl called the Worm Tube, that takes you to the Echo Room, and more. We are not experienced cavers and only went in about 100’. Even so, it was quite an adventure, the formations are spectacular. We plan to do a little more research and come back to explore further.


Rocktown, LaFayette, GA. This is still in the same preserve as the cave. The trail takes you to some very cool rock formations. We were there during the week and it was very quiet and peaceful. I expect a lot of rock climbers/bouldering enthusiasts come here to play.


difficulty: 1

Payne’s Sandwich Shop and Soda Fountain, Scottsboro, AL. Open since 1869, this restaurant brings you to the 1950s in style.


Unclaimed Baggage, Scottsboro, AL. The nation’s only retailer of lost luggage. All bags go through an extensive 3-month tracing process to be reunited with their owner. For the 0.03% not matched, there is Unclaimed Baggage. You never know what you’ll find. This place is extremely well put together and there really are some great bargains. Chris got a new hat and I found a really nice winter jacket. I’m almost looking forward to the cold so I can wear it.

Safiya Nygaard has a great video on how they run this store and why they have the unusual art pieces on their walls.


Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge, Scottsboro, AL. Park at the entrance gate (Do Not Block Gate) and walk approximately 100 yards to the Wildlife Viewing Platform on your right.

During the months of June, July, and August, one of nature’s most spectacular events occurs every evening – hundreds of thousands of bats leave the cave to begin their nightly foraging. This event can last for up to an hour. The cave is barred off to protect the endangered gray and Indiana bats (and some other bat species) from white nose disease and provides them with a safe place to hibernate through winter. We were there a bit later in the year but we were still able to enjoy watching hundreds of bats fly out and forage.

This cave has quite a history! An aboriginal carving in the cave of a ‘filfot’ cross is believed to be from some time between 1100-1500 AD.

1784 Cherokee village named Itsati (ee chah-tee) mispronounced “Sauty” by settlers existed at Sauta Cave.

1819-1860 Sauta Cave was a stage stop on the Huntsville to Chattanooga road.

1862 Confederate Army blasts passages for mining carts and a wooden railroad was built.

1956 The Huntsville Grotto mapped the entire (2.8 miles).

1919-1956 Sauta Cave became a fishing store. and nightclub with a dance floor placed in front of the entrance taking advantage of the cool wind exiting the cave.

1964 Sauta Cave purchased by individual and nightelub removed. Plans are made to commercialize the cave.

1978 USFWS obtagns the cave and named it Blowing Wind Cave National Wildlife Refuge

1999 The name is changed to Sauta Cave National Wildlife Refuge

1980-Present Cave and surrounding land is protected as crucial habitat for gray and Indiana bats.


Quality Inn, Scottsboro, AL

Price: $101/night


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