Tennessee is geographically diverse, with multiple distinct physiographic regions and varying terrains. Its landforms range from flat and fertile plains along the Mississippi River to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the state’s eastern region. Within these landforms are multiple caves and caverns with several historical sites and breathtaking geological formations.
Tennessee is home to about 10,000 caves, most of which are not accessible. Nonetheless, the few that are open to the public offer beautiful, unique experiences. Some of them contain awe-inspiring stalactites and stalagmites. Each cave has its own different story to tell.
This article examines 10 incredible caves that you can explore in Tennessee. Read on for more information!
Cumberland Caverns is the second-longest cave located in McMinnville, Tennessee. The cave is home to gypsum flowers, cave pearls, flowstone, helictites, stalactites, stalagmites, and a variety of cave life. With stunning pools and several beautiful underground waterfalls, there is plenty of fun for everyone at Cumberland Caverns.
It’s well known for Bluegrass Underground, a monthly music event that was held at Cumberland Caverns from 2008 to 2018. The musical television show took place in the caves Volcano Room.
- Address: 1437 Cumberland Caverns Rd, McMinnville, TN 37110, United States
- Website: Cumberland Caverns
- Phone number: +1 931-668-4396
- Entrance fee: No entrance fee. Visitors are only charged for camping and guided tours, which depends on the tour type, for example:
- The Crucible: $115 per person (adventure tour) and $145 per person (private tour).
- Guts and Glory: $145 per person (adventure tour) and $175 per person (private tour).
- Into the Dark: $145 per person.
- Lights Out: $175 per person.
- Google Maps link: Cumberland Caverns
Bell Witch Cavern
It’s a karst cave located on a property once owned by the Bell family. It’s believed that the family was allegedly haunted by an entity known as “Bell Witch.”
Therefore, it’s thought that the witch may have fled to the sanctuary of this cave when it departed the family. The cave is a more documented supernatural story in American history that outlines the tales of this particular witch. The human interactions with the witch date back to 1817.
- Address: 430 Keysburg Rd, Adams, TN 37010, United States
- Website: Bell Witch Cave
- Phone number: +1 615-696-3055
- Entrance fee: Adults 13+ range between $19 to $23 ($19 from Wednesday to Thursday and $23 from Friday to Sunday). It’s between $12 and $15 for children between ages 4 and 12
- Google Maps link: Bell Witch Cave
The Lost Sea
The Lost Sea is the U.S.’s largest and the world’s second-largest non-subglacial underground lake. Lost Sea adventure begins with a guided tour of Craighead Caverns, an extensive cave system with exciting history. The caverns feature many crystal clusters, including stalactites, anthodites, stalagmites, and a waterfall.
Ensure you take a boat ride at the bottom of the cave on The Lost Sea. Cave divers can also explore several rooms that are completely filled with water.
- Address: 140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN 37874, United States
- Website: The Lost Sea
- Phone number: +1 423-337-6616
- Entrance fee: $24.95 for adults, $14.95 for children ages 4-12, and free for children below 3.
- Google Maps link: The Lost Sea Adventure
Bristol Caverns is an attraction featuring ancient caverns with an underground river and unique mineral formations. It has paved, lighted walkways that wind through the vaulted chambers and along the river.
It’s believed that Indians used the underground river as an attack and escape route during raids. So, while at the Bristol Caverns, you can retrace the same warrior paths used by the Indians as you explore the vast rooms and arches, columns, and natural stone formations.
- Address: 1157 Bristol Caverns Hwy, Bristol, TN 37620, United States
- Website: Bristol Caverns
- Phone number: +1 423-878-2011
- Entrance fee: Approximately $17 per adult.
- Google Maps link: Bristol Caverns
Appalachian Caverns is the best-known cavern with a campsite and a gem mine with an easygoing atmosphere. The cavern has a consistent temperature, so early people used it as a shelter during harsh winters. The caverns could house larger groups of people due to its massive size.
Historic families such as the Boones, Crocketts and other less-known key pioneers were associated with property and caverns. The availability of bat dung, an important ingredient in making gunpowder at the time, played a key role during the American Revolution and the War Between the States.
- Address: 420 Cave Hill Rd, Blountville, TN 37617, United States
- Website: Appalachian Caverns
- Phone number: +1 423-323-2337
- Entrance fee: Depends on the tour:
- Walking Tour- $15 for adults, $9 for children between ages 2-12, and free for children under 2.
- Extended Tour- $25 per person for all ages (minimum of four people)
- Google Maps link: Appalachian Caverns
Tuckaleechee Caverns are chilly caverns carved inside the earth’s oldest mountain chain, estimated to be between twenty to thirty million years old. Best known as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” the caverns are rich in history. Millions of geological formations can be viewed during spelunking.
Take a guided tour and explore the BigRoom and SilverFalls, the tallest subterranean waterfalls in the Eastern United States. It falls approximately 210 feet from top to bottom.
- Address: 825 Cavern Rd, Townsend, TN 37882, United States
- Website: Tuckaleechee Caverns
- Phone number: +1 865-448-2274
- Entrance fee: $22 for adults, $10 for children between ages 5 to 11, and free for children under 4.
- Google Maps link: Tuckaleechee Caverns
Located in Lookout Mountain, Ruby Falls is a 145-foot-tall underground waterfall inside a limestone cavern. It has been a favorite destination for over 90 years. Take a guided cave walk tour to the waterfall or Ruby Falls Lantern Tour and discover hidden beauty deep inside Lookout Mountain.
Visitors can also engage in other outdoor adrenaline-pumping fun activities at High Point Zip Adventure, featuring a 40-foot climbing tower and soaring zip lines in the tree tops of Lookout Mountain, surrounded by breathtaking views.
- Address: Chattanooga, TN 37409, United States
- Entrance fee: Cave walk to the waterfall – $24.95 for adults and $13.95 for children between ages 3-12. | Ruby Falls Lantern Tour – $39.95 for ages 5+.
- Google Maps link: Ruby Falls
Raccoon Mountain Caverns
Situated in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Raccoon Mountain Caverns is well known for its high level of active speleotherm growth, fossils, and resident wildlife. The cavern is one of the major attractions in the area and is open for public exploration. The cave is home to several salamander species and unique spider species referred to as the Crystal Caverns Cave Spider.
The cave offers two main tours: the Crystal Palace Walking Tours and Wild Cave Expedition Tours. The Crystal Palace Walking Tour is about 45 to 55 minute walk through ¼ mile modified cave section with illuminated pathways, steps, and handrails. Take a Crystal Palace Walking Tour and catch sight of spectacular formations, such as stalagmites, stalactites, and soda straws, among others.
Visitors also have a chance to view ancient fossils and cave wildlife. Also referred to as “get muddy” tours, the Wild Cave Expedition involves visiting the deeper underdeveloped sections of the cave. Spelunkers must crawl, climb, slide, and squeeze through. Ensure you have the right gear, such as helmets, lights, pads, and gloves, if you plan on participating in a Canyon Crawl Expedition
- Address: 319 W Hills Dr, Chattanooga, TN 37419, United States
- Website: Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground
- Phone number: +1 423-821-9403
- Entrance fee:
- Crystal Palace Walking Tours are $25 per person.
- Canyon Crawl Expedition is $60 per participant
- Google Maps link: Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground
Dunbar Cave is a remarkable prehistoric cave located in the area of karst topography, including limestone bedrock, springs, and sinkholes. It used to be a sacred cave for the Mississippian people that lived along the Red River in the 14th Century CE.
The Mississippians believed that the cave was some actual portal into the Underworld. They left many drawings on the cave walls, some carved into the limestone itself and others in charcoal. Take one of the guided tours and experience the awe of these drawings that still hold sacred meanings even today for modern indigenous people
- Address: 401 Old Dunbar Cave Rd, Clarksville, TN 37043, United States
- Website: Dunbar Cave State Park
- Phone number: +1 888-867-2757
- Entrance fee: $14 for adults and $8 for children between ages 5 and 13. Children below the age of 5 are not permitted.
- Google Maps link: Dunbar Cave State Park
The Forbidden Caverns is one of America’s most spectacular caverns in Sevierville, Tennessee, near the Smoky Mountains. Tours span past sparkling geological formations, numerous grottos, towering natural chimneys, and a crystal clear stream.
The pathways are illuminated, with handrails at all necessary points. The cave descends several hundred feet below the surface, where you can find the underground river. It maintains a near-constant 58 degrees temperature and tends to stay the same throughout the year.
- Address: 455 Blowing Cave Rd, Sevierville, TN 37876, United States
- Website: Forbidden Caverns
- Phone number: +1 865-453-5972
- Entrance fee: $20 for adults 13+, $12 for children between ages 5-12, and free for children under 4.
- Google Maps link: Forbidden Caverns
Tennessee caves and caverns have a way of turning any experience into one that makes you feel welcomed and loved. If you enjoy outdoor adventures and viewing incredible geological formations, you should plan to explore some of the caves in Tennessee.
Not only are the caves affordable places to tour, but visitors don’t have to empty their accounts to enjoy spelunking, among other activities. Most caves and caverns are reasonably priced, meaning you might have money left over for souvenirs to gift your loved ones at home.
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