If you have never read any previous blogs of ours, we are from St. Louis and absolutely love it there! We both have family and friends there, so we find ourselves making frequent trips to St. Louis, which is fun once we arrive, but the drive can be rather tiresome. During the summer we went to St. Louis every other week for about three months and after awhile the drive became absolutely exhausting! We decided we should use these long drives as an excuse to travel and see more of the country. Each time we go to and from St. Louis now we stop off at least once per trip to a new place, such as a winery, small town, or a State Park-in this case Dunbar Cave State Park in Tennessee.
Every time we drove to St. Louis we saw the sign for Dunbar Cave with a man walking inside a concentric circle. Although we both enjoy state parks, we had absolutely no idea what this meant and then it clicked-it probably represents someone walking in a cave. (So if you ever see that symbol, it means that there is a cave there, and hopefully this will cause less confusion). We decided a cave was the perfect place to stop off, visit, and stretch out our legs.
The drive to Dunbar Cave was only a few miles off the highway, making it a great detour. Like most State Parks, there is a small visitors center (including bathrooms), short trails (ideal for a break in a long drive), and a lake filled with turtles sunbathing. We walked the quarter mile trail to the cave, as well as a paved hike, which were both easy “hikes” so for those who stop off you don’t need to worry about hiking boots. Upon arriving at the cave we were both slightly disappointed, because the cave itself was blocked off and you could only see the outside. Throughout Tennessee caves are inaccessible to visitors due to White Nose Syndrome, a condition that affects bats, so if you are planning on cave exploring any time soon make sure you check if you can actually venture into the cave.
Although we were unable to go into the cave we could explore the area right outside the cave, which was full of an interesting tale of the people that have utilized the cave. Originally the location provided shelter to inhabitants thousands of years ago and continued to be used by varying groups for hundreds of years. Next the cave experienced a variety of American visitors who used it for storing supplies, a hotel, and social events! There are signs to tell visitors about the varying inhabitants and purpose of the cave, as well as remnants such as a stage and the former concessions stand. Although we were unable to explore the cave, we both enjoyed the historic site and small walking trails. This definitely made for a great stopping point!