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According to The Nature Conservancy, Tennessee has more than 10,000 documented caves and is home to the most caves in the United States.
Image courtesy of forbiddencavern.com
(36º 9' 2" N, 83º 55' 6" W)
The entrance to the earthen shelter is at the end of a sink immediately off the road. In the sink, a small babbling creek twists and turns until it reaches the opening which is about 10 feet by 4 feet. The creek then tumbles down a 25-foot waterfall into a chasm.
8524 Oak Ridge Highway
Knoxville, TN 37931 • Map It
Cherokee Caverns is not open on a daily basis. It is run by volunteers. The cave opens several times throughout the year for public tours.
The caverns began forming about 300 million years ago. Shells and skeletons of ancient marine life mixed with sand, clay, and other material to form the Copper Ridge Dolomite rock. This occurred in an inland sea, which covered the area at that time. Ancient earthquakes created cracks in the Dolomite rock, as the inland sea gradually receded the water enlarged the cracks to form the caverns. Ground water, acquiring a small amount of carbonic acid from the air and vegetation on the surface, dissolves the Dolomite rock as it works its way into the caverns. As this water drips and flows within the cavity of the cave it leaves a very small amount of dissolved rock on the cavern ceiling, walls and floor, gradually creating the cave formations known as speleothems. Soda straws, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, flowstone, are only a few of the beautiful speleothems found in the caverns.
455 Blowing Cave Rd
Sevierville, TN 37876 • Map It
Forbidden Caverns, located in Sevierville, Tennessee is one of America's most spectacular caverns. Visitors are provided with an entertaining and educational tour past sparkling formations, towering natural chimneys, numerous grottos and a crystal clear stream. Special lighting effects, a stereophonic sound presentation and well-trained tour guides combine to make this a most enjoyable experience. The trails are well-lighted, with handrails at all necessary points.
1111 Indian Cave Rd
Blaine, TN 37709 • Map It
Indian Cave is one of many Indian Caves in the United States. This cave was used by the Indians for more than 5000 years. Numerous remains were excavated proofing this. In 1983 the remains of a human skeleton were discovered and examined by The University of Tennessee. They were dated to be 3000 years old. At the beginning of the 18th century the cave entrance room was used by a French trader. He traded with Indians, especially the inhabitants of a Cherokee village just west of the entrance. The family of North Carolina's Governor Hoke Smith purchased the cave in 1869 for the mining. Bat guano was mined for its high amount of saltpeter which was needed to produce gun powder.
The Lost Sea Adventure
140 Lost Sea Rd.
Sweetwater, TN 37874 • Map It
Your Lost Sea adventure begins with a guided tour of the caverns. This involves a ¾ mile round-trip walk on wide sloping pathways. While touring the caverns and underground lake guides will tell of the cavern's exciting and colorful history. They will also explain the fascinating geological development of the immense cavern rooms and rare formations. At the bottom of the cave you will board a glass-bottom boat for an exciting trip on the Lost Sea, America's Largest underground lake.
825 Cavern Rd
Townsend, TN 37882 • Map It
Carved over tens of thousands of years in one of the earth's oldest mountain chains, Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, Tennessee are known as the "Greatest Site Under the Smokies". Estimated to be between 20 and 30 million years old, the Caverns are rich in history and lore in recent years as well.