The state of Tennessee is rich in caves because the geology of the region is conducive to maintain and make such formations. Some of the caves preserve the historical pieces of evidence of various civilizations and wildlife that they become scientifically and history-wise extremely important for the research scholars and tourists at the same time.
Being the tallest underground waterfalls of America, this is actually multiple cascades nestled safely inside the Lookout Mountain. The 1,120 ft long water stream surrenders to the cave pool, situated at the base of the falls. The waterfalls are nourished by natural springs and rainwater that finally mixes with the Tennessee River. After its discovery in 1928, the person in charge, Leo Lambert, named the falls after his wife Ruby and made the cave and the falls accessible for the public from the following year. Ruby Falls Cave, initially did not have any natural way out or way in, so it was under his supervision, digging and excavation started, for commercial purposes. The nearby Lookout Mountain Cave and Ruby Falls Cave were not naturally or geologically connected. After the digging and all, they were made to connect with each other and form the Lookout Mountain Caverns.
Opening Time: 08:00 am -08:00 pm
With the close association of the English Mountain and the Great Smokey Mountains, this cave has long been a witness of the change of civilizations. From sheltering indigenous people to welcoming modern civilians for entertainment purposes, it is no less than a historical geological formation with grottoes, water streams, and pools. Open for the public since 1967, the cave has beautiful light and music shows for amusing the guests. The temperature inside is around 58°F, so it is somehow chilly more or less. Conducted tours are named such as “Grotto of the Dead” and “Grotto of Evil Spirits”. Flash photography is not allowed inside the cave, and visitors are expected to abide by the norms and rules.
Opening Time: Changeable
This is also an amalgamation of multiple caves, laden with stalagmites formations all around. Opened in 1953, under the ownership of Bill Vananda and Harry Myers, this cave system is around 30 millions years old. The major attractions are 210 ft long underground two-tiered waterfall named as “Silver Falls” and a football stadium-like huge room known as the “Big Room”. The entire tour of the cave takes around more or less 2 hours.
Opening Time: March & November 10:00 am – 05:00 pm; April to October 10:00 am-06:00 pm
Discovered by the same man who explored Ruby Falls, Leo Lambert, this is a notable spacious cave system that operates hour-long tours. One of the mains is the Crystal Palace Tour that covers around the one-fourth of the entire cave. Formations like soda straws, stalagmites, stalactites, are visible throughout. The original name of the cavern was Tennessee Caverns, but it got changed to Crystal City Caves, and ultimately it received its final name, the Raccoon Mountain Caverns. The cave is known to house active geological formations as well as a wide range of fossils. Some unique spiders and salamander species are also found inside the cave. Even for RV and tent camping, there are designated areas by the authority concerned.
Opening Hours: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm
Existing for around 400 million years, and been used as a shelter to native people from natural calamity and man-made disputes, this is a vast cavern of the northeast Tennessee. The paths are well guarded and illuminated with various lights, accentuating the mystery of the caves to dramatic extent. There is the Underground River that reflects the massive and colossal formations clearly. Some of the interesting point of your tour will be the Lover’s Leap and the Bridal Veil. The Entrance Hall is another marvelous spot to have bewilderment at the geological creation.
Opening Hours: March 15th to October 09:00 am – 05:00 pm; November to March 14th 10:00 am – 04:00 pm. Throughout the year, all Sundays the cave opens at 12:30 pm.
The second-longest cave of the state, located in middle Tennessee, was formerly known as Higgenbotham Cave, named after the discoverer. After many years of becoming commercially accessible for public amusement, the name changed to what it is now. The cave system nurtures underground waterfalls, 32 miles of passageways, and multiple tours with different difficulty modes. The typical formation of stalactites and stalagmites and hiking experiences along with light shows like “Creation Pageant”, all make the cave a promising and a popular visiting spot. The cave tours could be overnight, daytime, or weekend specials. As a show cave, this claims to be the largest in Tennessee.
Opening Hours: 09:00 am – 05:00 pm
The 144 acres of the spacious place is considered to be housing the Mississippi Native American people for a long time. Those native people also enhanced the cave with their wall art during their stay, generations after generations. Due to the massive space and varied geology, people used to regard this place as the doorway or gateway to the Underworld. There were times when the cave was hosting musical concerts, presently, visitors can go to take conducted tours.
Opening Hours: May-August 08:00 am – 04:30 pm
The complex cave, situated close to the Great Smoky Mountains in Eastern Tennessee, is mostly known for sheltering the Lost Sea. The sea was discovered by a teenage boy named Ben Sands, and it held the record of being the largest underground lake in the world. Still, later, it came down to the second position as the non-subglacial underground lake, preceded by Namibia’s Dragon’s Breath Cave. However, the cave presently exhibits formations like stalagmites, stalactites, and authorities.
Opening Hours: 09:00 am – 06:00 pm
The longest cave of the state, this is a privately-owned cave, laden with stone formations. This cave bears the footprint of the jaguars belonging to the Ice Age era. This is a quiet and timid cave, with a whole world at its lap. From waterfalls to big and wide columns, the cave is beautiful. Since it is private you need to acquire the permission beforehand.
Opening Hours: Always (entrance is permission based only)
The privately owned cave has a close association with the folklore of the witch-hunting. This is a long cave being around 490 ft in length. Many enthusiasts come here to witness and feel the haunted aura of the space. There is a belief that a witch, haunting the Bell family (owner of the cave) took respite or permanently took shelter in the cave. However, local would love to go by these theories and these are the reasons why the place is more popular than other caves of the state.
Opening Hours: 10:00 am- 05:00 pm
Apart from this, there is Cherokee Caverns in the Knoxville area that plays Christmas music during the festive time. It is also open for a few days of a year. Tennessee’s caves are truly beautiful, concealing and revealing the mystery of the earth from time immemorial. These caves also have a wide variety of wildlife protected inside them. Since, it is not possible for individuals to cover all the caves of the state, you can check out these 10 as they are undoubtedly the best from the lot.
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