Shelta Cave

Shelta Cave is a 2,500-foot-long (760 m) cave and lake located in Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama, United States. It is described as one of the most bio-diverse caves within the Appalachian Mountains. The cave is currently owned and managed as a nature preserve by the National Speleological Society, with their main offices directly above the cave. It was declared a National Natural Landmark in October 1972.[1]

Shelta Cave
Shelta Cave
Map of Alabama
LocationHuntsville, Alabama, U.S.
Coordinates34°45′13″N 86°36′38″W
Area4 acres (1.6 ha)
Governing bodyNational Speleological Society
DesignatedOctober 1972


This cave was an underground bar and dance hall in the early 1900s.[2]

Speleology and wildlife

The cave is open to members of the NSS during certain times of the year to minimize the impact on the biota. There are now three sinkhole entrances. The lake can be as large as 7 acres (2.8 ha) during the winter and early spring rainy season. Other times of the year, the lake bed is exposed.[2]

There are nine species which were first discovered in this cave.[3] The Shelta cave crayfish is endemic to the cave.[4]


  1. NPS NNL Summary page
  2. Duncan, Andy (2005). Alabama Curiosities: Quirky Characters, Roadside Oddities & Other Offbeat Stuff. Globe Pequot. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-7627-3088-9. Retrieved 2008-12-12.
  3. NSS Shelta page Archived 2007-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Schuster, G.A., Taylor, C.A. & Cordeiro, J. 2010. Orconectes sheltae. In: IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.2. <>. Downloaded on 05 March 2013.
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