2700 Refuge Headquarters Road
Decatur, AL 35609
Fern Cave NWR was purchased in 1981 to provide protection for the federally endangered gray and Indiana bats. It consists of 199 acres of forested hillside underlain by a massive cave with many stalactite and stalagmite-filled rooms. The cave has five hidden entrances with four occurring on the Refuge. Fern Cave contains the largest wintering colony of gray bats in the United States with over one million bats hibernating there in the winter. Bat experts also think that as many as one million Indiana bats may be using the cave and an expedition into the cave is being planned for the future.
Map + Directions
Fern Cave NWR is located on the western slope of Nat Mountain. From Huntsville, take highway 72 north to Gurley. North of Gurley, turn left on County road 500 just past where hwy 72 crosses the Paint Rock River. CR 500 is closed at a gate but access by foot traffic is still allowed. Follow the old road as it winds along the Paint Rock River along the southwest base of Nat Mountain and look for National Wildlife Refuge signs.