Reilly Blackwell among tree roots 📷 Ethan Reuter
Reilly Blackwell among tree roots 📷 Ethan Reuter

William J. Stephenson Nature Preserve


Madison County, Alabama
173 feet, 592 feet, 38 feet

Located on the property of the NSS Headquarters and Conference Center are 60 acres of mature forest that climbs Drake Mountain to offer access to three caves via a short hiking trail. Reel Drop Cave has a pleasant 28 foot rappel with walking passage that terminates in a beautifully decorated dome. Blue Balloon Cave is a short horizontal cave primarily with hands and knees crawling. While Tree Root Cave offers opportunities to explore horizontal cave and numerous short vertical pitches.

Want to Visit?

Access to the cave is available via permit. Please refer to the access rules below prior to applying for a permit.

In the early 1800s the Davis family were the first recorded owners of this parcel of land granted from the government office in Nashville, Tennessee. Various members of this family held ownership until the 1950s when it was sold to the Shriners’. This organization maintained the property until it was purchased by the NSS on Dec. 15, 2011.