With the seasons changing and the weather warming up, you may be itching to get outside and explore. And we’ve got just the place for you. These nine best caves in Tennessee are somewhere you’ll be able to appreciate even on the hottest days.
According to the Tennessee Cave Survey, Tennessee has more caverns than the majority of other states. There are approximately more than 10,000 caves in Tennessee.
Each one provides a lovely perspective, with the beautiful decorations in the shape of stalactites and stalagmites being the main draws. Every cave has a story to tell, and a tour of the area by boat or foot with the assistance of a guide will undoubtedly enlighten you on the legends associated with them.
Many underground wonders may be found in Tennessee, some of which are recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records. Here are a few of our favorites of all the beautiful Tennessee Caves to visit.
Take a look at our favorite caves in Tennessee.
Top 12 Caves in Tennessee
1. Cumberland Caverns
Cumberland Caverns, the second-largest cave in the United States, is located in McMinnville, middle Tennessee.
Everyone has plenty of fun and excitement with daily walking tours, adventure tours, and overnight adventure excursions that cover more than 32 miles of tunnels and underground passageways, incredible underground rock formations, beautiful underground waterfalls, and gleaming pools.
The cave’s typical production of stalactites and stalagmites, as well as trekking opportunities and light shows like “Creation Pageant,” make it a popular recreational destination. The tours might be undertaken overnight, during the day, or only on weekends.
This cave claims to be Tennessee’s largest exhibition cave. Bluegrass Underground, a monthly music event, was formerly held in the cave’s Volcano Room.
2. Appalachian Caverns
Appalachian Caverns in Blountville, East Tennessee, has a magnificent history. More than 1300 years ago, the cave’s first known inhabitants were the Early Woodland Native Americans. It was occupied by early American immigrants such as Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Several soldiers afterward employed it throughout the Civil War.
Several excursions are offered, including a general walking tour, extended tours, explorer tours, and the most difficult of them, the wild tour.
Cave visitors are invited to stay on the well-equipped on-site campground and tour the settler’s homestead and gem mine, approximately 10 minutes away from Bristol Speedway and Boone Lake.
3. Bell Witch Cave
This privately owned cave is approximately 490 feet long. The Bell Witch’s legend is linked to the cave, which is said to haunt the Bell family, the current owners of the land where the cave is located.
Several stories regarding the presence of the Bell Witch circulate, wholesomely entertaining the travelers.
Visitors are invited to borrow a canoe, kayak, or tube and float the Red River through the grounds of the historic Bell farm during June, July, and August.
4. Raccoon Mountain Caverns
Raccoon Mountains, the most remarkable expansive caves in Tennessee, contains more than five and a half miles of caverns packed with stunning rock formations that have been well-preserved. It offered hour-long excursions and was discovered by Leo Lambert of the Ruby Caves fame in the South.
The Crystal Palace Tour, which spans roughly one-fourth of the cave, is one of the most popular. Formations such as soda straws, stalagmites, and stalactites can be seen throughout the cave.
Lambert named it Tennessee Caverns at first, then Crystal City Caves, before settling on its current name, Raccoon Mountain Caverns, in the 1970s. There are also several unusual spiders and salamanders to be found here.
A campsite with cottages, rustic tent sites, and RVs is also located nearby.
5. Bristol Caverns
Bristol Caverns is a huge cavern in northeast Tennessee that has been around for roughly 400 million years, protecting the locals from natural disasters and man-made conflicts. It is one of the most beautiful caves in Tennessee.
Bristol Caverns is one of the Great Smoky Mountain region’s major caverns. The cave was produced by the rise and flow of an ancient subterranean river. Travelers now walk along its banks to observe the magnificent works of nature, which include vaulted rooms, stalagmites, stalactites, mineral veins, and other beautiful structures.
There’s the ancient underground river, which features gigantic structures with columns, arches, and rooms. The Lover’s Leap and the Bridal Veil will be two of the most fascinating parts of your journey. Another beautiful location is the Entrance Hall, which entices you to be perplexed by the dazzling formations that adorn it.
6. Ruby Caves
Since its accidental discovery in 1928, the falls have been named after Leo Lambert’s wife Ruby, named the falls after his wife, Ruby, and the falls have been open to the public since the following year. Because Ruby Falls Cave had no natural exit or entrance, drilling and excavation for commercial objectives began under Lambert’s supervision.
Lookout Mountain Cave and Ruby Falls Cave were not connected in any way, either naturally or geologically. They were built to link with each other and form the Lookout Mountain Caverns after all of the diggings.
Visit Chattanooga to witness the country’s tallest, largest and deepest underground waterfall open. This tourist attraction begins with a 260-foot descend into the depths of Lookout Mountain in a glass-front elevator.
Visitors today can take a guided tour of the cave, which culminates at the base of the falls with a stunning light show as millions of gallons of water gushes over the cliff. Following that, guests can make use of on-site eating, a playground, and a nearby zipline adventure course.
7. The Lost Sea
We assure you have not visible something pretty like The Lost Sea. It is among the most stunning caves in Tennessee. Touring this subterranean cave will take you down a nearly mile-long trail that will lead you to the cave’s most interesting feature: the world’s largest underground lake, “The Lost Sea.”
You can take a ship trip to this superb lake and find a detailed look at the amazing rock formations. There are also some fascinating historical details to see. The three-hour drive is certainly worth it.
8. Tuckaleechee Caverns
Tuckaleechee Caverns is around 30 million years old and was opened in 1953 under the management of Bill Vananda and Harry Myers. It was once home to the Cherokee tribes. Later, in the nineteenth century, the cave was used as a sewing and portable home duties workstation for women.
The “Silver Falls,” a 210-foot underground two-tiered cascade, and the “Big Cavern,” a football stadium-like large room, are the main attractions. On average, a tour of the cave takes roughly 2 hours.
9. Forbidden Caverns
This cave gives witness to the changing of civilizations due to the proximity of the English Mountain and the Great Smoky Mountains. Forbidden Caverns, about 35 minutes from Gatlingburg, was another Tennessee cavern where Cherokee Indians lived.
Moonshiners later exploited the well-hidden tunnels to brew and store their wares until they could be distributed.
The Forbidden Caverns was first open to the public in June 1967, and today tourists can take a 55-minute walking tour over well-paved and well-lit walkways.
10. Blue Spring Cave
This privately owned cave, which is among the longest caves in Tennessee and the ninth-longest in the United States, is packed with natural stone formations.
The footprints of Ice Age jaguars, weighing between 450 and 500 pounds on average, may be found in this cave.
The area appears to be encrusted with lovely formations such as columns and private straws. Some visitors have recounted crawling around to explore the passages in a section of the cave that is a little more difficult to examine.
11. Dunbar Cave
The 144 acres of land are thought to have been used to house Mississippi Native Americans for a long period. During their stay, the indigenous people also embellished the cave with their wall art, which was passed down through the years.
Due to its large size and diverse geology, this area was considered the gateway to the Underworld. Originally, the cave hosted musical performances. Currently, a guided tour will provide you with a clear understanding of the cave and its environs making it one of the most exciting caves in Tennessee.
12. Craighead Caverns
The Lost Sea is housed in this complicated cave within the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee.
After Namibia’s Dragon’s Breath Cave, the sea discovered by a teenage lad named Ben Sands holds the title for being America’s largest and world’s second-largest underground lake. The cave’s stalactites and stalagmites, as well as a waterfall, are a must-see when you come.
Most caves in Tennessee are situated in the eastern two-thirds of the state, in limestone-rich areas, according to Tennessee State Parks. Limestone was formed “as calcium deposits on the bottoms of shallow oceans millions of years ago.” Limestone erodes when it is exposed to rain and flowing water, leaving channels and caverns.
Caves in Tennessee are genuinely magnificent, concealing and revealing the earth’s mystery since the dawn of time. These caves also house a diverse range of species that are protected. Because a single person can’t visit all of the state’s caverns, you can focus on the above-mentioned caves in Tennessee, which are unquestionably the best.
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