Caving at Cloudland Canyon:
I am so excited to share the adventure that my son and I had caving at Cloudland Canyon! This experience is not for the faint of heart or those who don’t want to get muddy and wet. When you are done, you will feel a little closer to nature and like you’ve finished an undertaking that is invigorating and unique.
Cloudland Canyon State Park is about a 2.5 hour drive northwest of the center of Atlanta. I have wanted to visit ever since I saw a photo of the picturesque canyon years ago in an advertisement about visiting Georgia. G3 Adventures -Wild Cave Tours was listed on the state park website, and I thought it would be an amazing way for my boys and I to have an adventure. My 50th birthday was coming up, and I was going to milk it for all it was worth. Two of my boys and my husband could not make it, but my 14 year old agreed that it would be an exciting way to celebrate my 50th birthday together. So I booked the two hour tour.
It is a fairly long drive from Atlanta for a day trip, but the cave combined with a short hike with views of the canyon and a waterfall after our caving adventure made the long day worth it. If we had time, staying overnight in the park would have been ideal. That way we could have enjoyed this exceptional park more. I did notice that the cabin and yurt rentals are popular so you will have to plan ahead to rent one. Below is a photo of the magnificant Cloudland Canyon and lovely Cherokee Falls.
We arrived at the G3 check in at Cloudland Canyon State Park, and met our two adorable young guides. While registering online we were told to wear warm old clothes and closed toe shoes and were outfitted with knee pads, helmets with headlamps and gloves once we got there.
We followed the guides in our own cars for seven miles from Cloudland Canyon State Park to the cave entrance site. The drive was pretty spectacular winding along a cliff with the city of Trenton at the bottom. Once there, we took a short hike to the cave through lush woods with wildflowers in bloom along the trail.
As we approached it was truly amazing how much colder the air was near the cave which I did not expect. Once we got closer, we saw the jagged rocks at the opening that fell into total darkness inside the cave. Our guide explained that this is where we would be coming out of the cave. The alluring beauty of the cave was calling me to explore, and I got more excited about going in.
Our guide told us some interesting facts about cave geology before we started up a fairly steep hill along the bluff to the cave entrance.
When we reached the entrance I got a bit nervous since it was a very steep drop off which would require repelling to enter. Luckily, there was an easier way to get in around the corner.
The guides explained that we needed three or four points of contact with the ground and/or rocks for balance at all times. This was very good advice since it was very muddy and slippery right from the start. We had to scoot on our bottoms to get in.
Once in the cave we continued to scoot on our bottoms for awhile until we reached a more flat area at the bottom of the entrance.
The next part of exploring the cave was wading through the frigid water of an underground river. At times the water was up to the top of my thighs. Our guides explained the water level constantly changes, but in general is deeper in the spring. The cave has a temperature of around 50 degrees year round so the water is cold. I was fine with the temperature of the cave, but wading through the water was intense. I was glad that the entire tour was not in the river.
Our guides pointed out stalactites and stalagmites and other cave formations to us.
Our group was challenged to go through two tight spaces. One was called the rabbit hole. Maneuvering your body through the small openings was not easy. You had to twist and turn to squeeze through. On one of the challenges a caver lost the sole of his shoe and then later the other one. Apparently this is common since people wear their old shoes in the cave. We joked that he lost his soul in the cave.
We saw a few fuzzy bats, baby salamanders and crawfish in the cave.
Once we were deep into the darkness of the cave, we did “lights out” which I guess no cave tour would be complete without. Sitting in total darkness is always a bit eerie. The only noise was the dripping of water. Getting trapped in a cave would be a horrifying experience. Our guide said it would be almost impossible to find your way out without a light. That is why you should never go alone in a cave, always have back up lights, and go with someone familiar with the cave and conditions. I would never want to go without a guide, and I’m pretty sure permits are required to enter most caves. There was some graffiti in the cave from the early 1900’s when they would have only had lanterns to light the way. I can see Tom Sawyer and Becky in the cave now with only the light of a torch, very spooky idea.
To get out of the cave we had to go through some fairly deep parts of the river and then crawl on our hands and knees for awhile. Then to my surprise we actually had to do a belly crawl through the thick mud since the opening got that tight. It was harder than I expected, but we all made it out with no problems. “Seeing the light at the end of the tunnel” was a great feeling.
Here are my son and I at the end. We got super muddy, but it was a blast and something I will never forget!
Cole and one of the guides were all smiles back at the parking lot. Don’t forget a total extra set of clothes and shoes to change into and a towel.
If you are an adventurous person and have never been caving, I highly recommend the Wild Cave Tours with G3 Adventures at Cloudland Canyon State Park. Expect to get muddy, wet, be a little cold and have an amazing adventure while exploring the cave. We did the two hour tour which I thought was perfect. However, they do offer a one hour tour and a four hour tour. If you are interested in a hike at Cloudland Canyon, check out my blog about hiking to Cherokee Falls.
Cloudland Canyon State Park:
G3 Adventure Wild Cave Tours:
Photography in the cave was quite a challenge. Carrying a camera of any size that was not waterproof would be very difficult and I would not recommend it. Your hands get muddy right away and you are in the water a significant amount of time. I purchased the waterproof carrying case for my phone that they sold there which worked great to keep my phone dry. I used my iPhone for all of these photos and edited them in Lightroom. Getting my phone in and out was not easy, and I was worried about ruining it. If I had not been writing my blog I would have not taken pictures and had the guides take some for me instead. They had a waterproof camera and will put some photos on Facebook if you ask them.