14 Amazing Caves in Tennessee

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Caves In Tennessee
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Learn all about the famous caves in Tennessee that are aesthetically pleasing. Plan your next trip to explore these beauties.

Origin Of Tennessee Caves

Caves In Tennessee
Roni Ben/Shutterstock

Caves in Tennessee number more than 10,000, extending from the Mammoth Cave Area, Central Kentucky, to Northern Alabama. These are one of the most extensive cave systems.

These ancient remains boast of footprint, mortuary, and ceremonial caves, with various mines and quarries. Native Americans used these for ceremonial, artistic, and mining purposes.

Let us look at what distinguishes each of these.

1) Caves In Tennessee 

The Caves in Tennessee exploring with several beautiful underground passageways, waterfalls, and pools spreading over more than 30 miles.

This is what your travel itinerary would include over here –

1.1) Bell Witch Cave

This is a perfect site to explore for all the paranormal lovers with the famous legend Bell Witch of Adams circulating here.

She is considered the spirit of Kate Batts, a neighbor of John Bell, who she claimed cheated him on a land purchase. She even tortured his daughter Betsy Bell.

The artifacts like an iron kettle and chimney stone are present in the historic bell witch cave. Other articles and photos of John’s reconstructed cabin are also evident. 

It is a secluded section in Adams with beautiful green hills and farmland that can provide serenity despite its rocky experiences accounted by visitors. Click here to include this in your caves in Tennessee planned itinerary. 

1.2) Raccoon Mountain Caverns

This cave system is located near the outskirts of Tennessee. You could explore several underground trails here lined with crystals and stalactites on the walking trails.

Raccoon mountain caverns are one of the most geologically active in the southern United States, known for their fine condition compared to others.

They have an excellently preserved ecosystem with bats and unique spiders. This is quite a fascination considering they opened to public viewing in the 20th century.

Explore the daily walking tours, gem panning, and spelunking tours on your next visit. A popular one is the crystal palace tour, which tours around 1/4th of the location displaying soda straws and interesting wildlife like salamanders. Click here to know more about the caves in Tennessee. 

1.3) Cumberland Caverns

You find interesting underground waterfalls, rock formations, passageways, and gleaming pools that stretch over 32 miles among these caves in Tennessee. 

The Cumberland caverns are considered among the extensive cave systems of Tennessee. It was opened to the public in the 20th century and has been a popular tourist attraction ever since.

It has exciting facilities like Daytime, overnight caving tours, and a huge volcano room celebrated popularly as a musical venue.

Click here to know about the different kinds of tours available for everyone based on age, time, and difficulty level in Cumberland caverns rd.

1.4) Bristol Caverns

Located along the banks of an ancient underground river (towards northeast Tennessee) that stretches to around 200-400 million years ago, the Bristol caverns are an exciting historical site to explore among the caves in Tennessee. Native Americans used these as escape and attack routes.

These are among the best caves to visit due to vast rooms, arches, columns, natural stone formations, and beautiful colors from blue to sparkling white, along well-lit walkways that take you through the uniquely paved vaulted chambers.

The underground river itself is a place to explore with dazzling formations of Bridal Veil (located at Lover’s leap) and Entrance Hall. Click here to know more.

1.5) Tuckaleechee Caverns

Located along a mile near Townsend, TN, the Tuckaleechee caverns are nestled in the Great smoky mountains reaching depths of almost 150 feet. These are popularly known as The Greatest Site Under The Smokies.

With a 210 feet depth, you could also view Silver Falls. This is the tallest subterranean waterfall in Eastern US. It is considered to be thirty million years old and labeled as the earth’s oldest mountain chain.

You can witness unique geological formations and crystal clear streams flowing through all the caverns. It faced a rough period during the great depression (the 1930s) but was soon opened for tourists with huge passageways to explore.

Click here to learn more about these caves in Tennessee, including the Big Room – the enormous cavern system with brilliant rock formations stretching from floor to ceiling.

1.6) Appalachian Caverns

These caverns in Blountville, East Tennessee, had several uses over the years since the Early woodland native Americans settled here 1300 years ago.

It served as a sheltered place during winters and a safe place to avoid enemies (especially used as a hideout for troops and a hospital to treat wounds during wars.) It was also a center to produce moonshine during the prohibition period. With warm winters and cool summers, this is an ideal location to explore history and unique sights.

Apart from explorer and wild tours, visitors can also see the Boone Lake and Bristol caverns located only 10-15 minutes from the Appalachian caverns.

An on-site campground is also available for an extended stay. Explore more about Appalachian caverns as one of the caves in Tennessee here.

1.7) Forbidden Caverns

These picturesque caves are located on the eastern side of the Great Smoky Mountains. What makes them stand out is the lighting matching Oogie Boogie’s lair from ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas.’

True to their name, the sights you see here are eerie mineral formations, silent pools, echoing grottoes, and a cool stream coming from an underground lake. This was used as a shelter for the indigenous people and as a moonshine brewing spot during the 20th century.

It is a major tourist attraction for those who like creepy scenarios. They offer group tours, light shows, and sound presentations, highlighting the history of this location. Learn more here.

1.8) The Lost Sea

Located in East Tennessee Hills, walking tours across the beautiful cave system end with boat tours, showcasing around 13 acres of the Guinness book mentioned largest underground lake in America – The Lost Sea.

Through a one-hour tour, you’ll learn the history of these caverns used in the past by Cherokee Indians and Confederate soldiers. Some amazing geological formations like cavern rooms are also present.

Recognized as a National Landmark by the United States Department of the Interior, this is a unique location with rare authorities or cave flowers. It also houses the largest trout found in North America.

A lot is yet to be discovered, when it comes to the largest underground lake, learn more about these here.

1.9) Dunbar Cave State Park

This is a famous prehistoric site known in the eastern woodlands, especially for its Mississippian Native American Cave Art that portray sacred meanings, spanning back to the 14th century. They are still relevant to the indigenous population of Southeastern areas.

The cave tour season extends from May to September, when you can explore these beautiful charcoal and limestone drawings at the Dunbar Cave State Park. Learn more about the current facilities here.

1.10) Ruby Falls Cave

This cave system, known as the Lookout Mountain Caverns, features an amazing underground waterfall apart from the general geological features. These remained undiscovered for almost 200 million years.

The Lookout Mountain Caverns were used as a shelter during the Civil War. With the building of a railroad, these were shut down. It was only due to the efforts of Leo Lambert that these were reopened.

He named the underground waterfall after his wife, thus, the name ruby falls. Today, from the light displays to the hues that melt into cavern walls, this is a popular attraction visited by many in Hamilton County. Click here to know more about the caves in Tennessee. 

1.11) The Caverns

This is a world-renowned destination in Grundy County, Tennessee boasting of an underground live system and a magical cave that can be explored on different levels.

Even though it is a giant hole in the ground, it is known as the Greatest Show Under Earth due to its state-of-the-art lighting, bathrooms, coat check, and natural amphitheater millions of years old.

Despite being used for the PBS program ‘Bluegrass Undergound’ and hosting many music shows since 2018, the archaeologists made sure artifacts over here are not damaged. Know more about the caves in Tennessee here.

1.12) Nickajack Cave

Located at a 3-mile distance from the interstate, this cave in the Tennessee river boasts of almost 60,000 bats emerging in sunset and rumors of giant catfish eating them!

You can not only witness the stunning site of bats emerging from the caves but also experience the hideout used by river pirates back then. It was frequently mined by Confederate and Union armies during the war for saltpeter, used to make gunpowder.

These were closed to protect the gray bats by the TVA. Know more about the caves in Tennessee here.

1.13) Timothy Demonbreun’s Cave

This small cave near the Cumberland River, Tennessee, was a makeshift home for a famous local fur trader, Timothy Demonbreun. Various tribes consisting of almost 650,000 natives also called the land their Tennessee Home.

Though protected as a national landmark today and guarded by steel bars, it is just a large crack in a rock situated above Cumberland. Know more about its current condition as one of the caves in Tennessee here.

1.14) Virgin Falls Pocket Wilderness

A stunning trail stretches across almost 1157 acres in the heart of Tennessee. It is popularly known for the Virgin falls, which emerge from an underground stream in a cave, dropping over another cave in the bottom of the sink.

You can hike for almost 8 hours and camp with a view of the falls. However, click here to check its current status, as these caves in Tennessee and many others were closed due to WNS.  

Most caves mentioned here are the prominently visited ones. To gain information on how all of these are managed, click here.

Explore more sights in Tennessee here.

Also read: Biggest Mall in the US

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