Russell Cave National Monument is a United States National Monument in Bridgeport in northeastern Alabama. Its cave shelter archaeological site contains the most complete record of prehistoric cultures in the Southeast.
Russell Cave National Monument is the oldest rock shelter used regularly for a home in the Eastern United States. Inhabited during all Prehistoric time periods (Paleo, Archaic, Woodland and Mississippian), Russell Cave's artifacts represent nearly every culture inhabiting the region for over 10,000 years.
Russell Cave National Monument gets its name from Thomas Russell and his family. They owned the property when the area was mapped between 1835 and 1928.
Russell Cave became a National Monument on May 11, 1961. The National Geographic Society donated 310 acres to the American people because of the great archaeological discoveries there.
Flora and fauna
The weather in Bridgeport, Alabama is mild. The average temperature in the winter is in the low 50s. The average summer temperature is in the high 80s. The area receives about 50 inches of rain each year. Snowfall varies, but only lasts a few days per event.
Located at 3729 County Road 98 in Bridgeport, Alabama, Russell Cave National Monument is open year round, seven days a week, with the exception of New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day. Hours of operation are 8AM until 4:30PM Central Standard Time.
From Chattanooga, Tennessee: Go west on Interstate 24, then take U.S. Highway 72 West to County Road 75. Turn right onto County Road 75, and continue on County Road 75 for one mile. Turn right onto County Road 98 for four miles, then turn left into the entrance of the park.
From Huntsville or Scottsboro, Alabama: Take U.S. Highway 72 East to County Road 75. Turn left onto County Road 75, and continue on County Road 75 for one mile before turning right onto County Road 98. Travel on County Road 98 for four miles, then turn left into the entrance of the park
Fees and permits
Russell Cave National Monument has no fees or admission charges, but requests reservations for groups of twenty or more people at least two weeks in advance.
The monument is small so walking is the only mode of transportation allowed or needed.
- 1 Gilbert Grosvenor Visitor Center. Begin your exploration of the park in the visitor center. Pick up a park brochure for more information about the cave shelter and hiking trails. Watch a 7 minute film about the early inhabitants of Russell Cave and view the artifacts that were excavated from the cave shelter. Check out the Eastern National bookstore that has an assortment of books and souvenirs for adults and children.
- Museum exhibits
- Movies about the lifeways of prehistoric people
- Demonstrations of prehistoric tools and weapons
Activities available free of charge include:
- A ranger guided tour of the cave shelter
- Nature hike along Alabama Birding Trail site #44
- Picnic areas