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10 Tennessee Caves You Want to Visit and Explore

I'm a Tennessee-based freelance writer with a passion for true crime, a thirst for knowledge, and an obsession with lists.

1. Cumberland Caverns

Cumberland Caverns, America's second-largest cave, is located in the middle Tennessee city of McMinnville.

With more than 32 miles of caves and underground passageways, incredible underground rock formations, beautiful underground waterfalls, and gleaming pools, there is plenty of fun and adventure for everyone with daily walking tours, adventure tours, and overnight adventure tours.

Cumberland Caverns is also home to Bluegrass Underground, a popular television music show featuring bluegrass and folk artists.

2. The Lost Sea

Visitors to The Lost Sea nestled in the East Tennessee hills near Sweetwater will first enjoy a guided walking tour of the caverns that concludes with a guided boat tour of parts of the more than 30 acres of America's largest underground lake.

Every day of the year except Christmas Day, visitors can enjoy the Cavern Kitchen serving up some of the best BBQ around, a rustic general store, and a nature trail.

3. Bell Witch Cave

The legend of the Bell Witch isn't something known about the South so visitors come from all over to tour the Bell Witch Cave in Adams, Tennessee.

While the cave in and of itself isn't that spectacular, the story of the cave is and that's what lands it in the number three spot on this list.

During the months of June, July, and August, visitors are invited to rent a canoe, kayak, or tube and float the Red River around the grounds of the old Bell farm.

4. Appalachian Caverns

Appalachian Caverns in East Tennessee's city of Blountville has a majestic history. The cave's first known dwellers were the Early Woodland Native Americans more than 1300 years ago. It's known to have been inhabited by early American settlers including Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. Later it would be used by various troops during the Civil War.

A variety of tours are available such as a general walking tour, extended tours, explorer tours, and a wild tour, which is the toughest one of all.

Located only 10 minutes from Bristol Speedway and Boone Lake, cave guests are invited to stay on the well-equipped on-site campground and visit the settler's homestead and gem mine.

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5. Bristol Caverns

Bristol Caverns is one of the largest caverns in the Great Smoky Mountains region. The cave was formed from the rise and flow of the ancient underground river and today paved walkways guide visitors along its banks to view the beautiful works of nature exhibiting vaulted rooms, stalagmites, stalactites, mineral veins, and other breathtaking formations.

The caverns are open every day except Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

6. Tuckaleechee Caverns

Estimated to be between 20 and 30 million years old, Tuckaleechee Caverns is known to have been home to Cherokee Native Americans before they were discovered in this region of the country around 1850. It was later used in the late 19th century as a place for women to sew and do other portable household chores during the humid summer months.

Since 1931, the cave has been opened to the public and continues to give tours 365 days per year.

7. Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is Tennessee's most popular cave as part of the Lookout Mountain attractions in Hamilton County, Tennessee. It is also Tennessee's most commercialized cave.

The caverns were discovered in 1928 by a team of explorers who spotted a breathtaking waterfall more than 1100 feet below the surface of the mountain. Ruby Falls was opened to the public in 1930.

Today visitors enjoy a guided tour of the cave that concludes at the base of the falls with a spectacular light show as millions of gallons of water gushes over the steep ledge. Afterwards, guests can enjoy on-site dining, a playground, and an adjacent zipline adventure course.

Nearby attractions include the Lookout Mountain Incline, Rock City, and Pointe Park.

8. Raccoon Mountain Caverns

The most geologically active cave in the South, Raccoon Mountains is more than five and a half miles of caverns filled with beautiful rock formations which have been well-preserved.

Raccoon Caverns offers two types of tours: general and a wild tour—better known as the "get dirty" tour.

Close to Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, Raccoon Mountain offers cabin and campsite rentals for guests.

9. Forbidden Caverns

Only 35 minutes from Gatlingburg, Forbidden Caverns was another Tennessee cavern that Cherokee Indians lived in. Later the well-hidden caves were used by moonshiners to brew and store their product until it could be delivered.

Opened to the public in June 1967, visitors to the cave today are invited to a 55-minute walking tour along well-paved and lit pathways.

10. Cumberland Gap National Historic Park

Although the park's address is technically in Kentucky, Tennessee also shares the Cumberland Gap National Historic Park.

Cumberland Gap makes it on this list of Tennessee caves because visitors will enjoy tours of the Gap Cave located within the park in addition to the numerous other activities within this national natural treasure.

Bonus! Dunbar Cave

Located inside Dunbar Cave State Park in Clarksville, it is an interesting cave full of history.

© 2016 Kim Bryan

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