Road trip: Russell Cave

Submitted by Sammy Smith (


The mouth of Russell Cave, looking out in springtime.

Visit Russell Cave and walk back in time.


Russell Cave is in the TAG area—where the states of Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia meet (get it: T-A-G?). This area has lots of limestone bedrock. Limestone is a soft stone, and subject to erosion. The TAG area is known for having many caves—and Russell Cave has a large mouth that makes it an inviting place!

Russell Cave is the focus of Russell Cave National Monument.

It is a cave—and you can walk into it. And it’s a big cave.

Excavations at the cave have revealed that ancient peoples used it, perhaps year after year. There were also periods when people used it less frequently. The NPS website notes: “Excavations at Russell Cave National Monument unearthed some of the best preserved bone tools in the Southeastern United States. Some of the uses of bone tools include fishhooks, sewing needles and jewelry.”

Why do you think Russell Cave had well-preserved bone objects?

Where to find it