10 Tennessee Caves to Visit

Did you know that Tennessee is home to almost 10,000 caves? While you can’t enter all of these caves; there are many that you can and they offer beautiful, unique experiences. Some of them are even home to rare and protected wildlife. A day trip to visit one of these 10 beautiful caves makes for a unique experience for you and your family.

*We will do our best to update this list with any new COVID-19 protocols for the caves listed below. If you plan to visit one of these Tennessee caves, we recommend you reach out to them before going to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

1Cumberland Caverns

Photo from Cumberland Caverns website

With more than 32 miles of caves and underground passageways, incredible underground rock formations, beautiful underground waterfalls, gleaming pools, there is plenty of fun and adventure for everyone! There are daily walking tours, daytime caving tours and overnight caving tours for you and your family to enjoy.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes, several including Daily Walking Tours, Daytime Caving Tours and Overnight Caving Tours
Cost: Ranges from $18.95 to $100+ depending on the type of tour you would like to do.
Website: https://cumberlandcaverns.com
Location: 1437 Cumberland Caverns Rd, McMinnville, TN, 37110

2The Lost Sea

The Lost Sea Cave
Photo – The Lost Sea Facebook Page

The Lost Sea is one of the most popular caving destinations. The adventure begins with a guided tour of the caverns, which involves a ¾ mile round-trip walk on wide sloping pathways. The pathways can be very steep in places. While touring the caverns and underground lake, your guide will tell you of the caverns’ exciting history, including how the cave was once used by The Cherokee Indians and how the Confederate soldiers mined the cave for saltpeter for the production of gun powder. They will also explain the fascinating geological development of the immense cavern rooms and rare formations. The lake covering more than 4 acres, is recognized by the U.S. Department of the interior as a Registered National Natural Landmark because of the unique natural phenomenon through the cave and the abundance of a large collection of rare anthodites, more commonly known as “Cave Flowers”. The lake is located 140 feet below the ground level, so coming up can be a hike. The tour lasts approximately one hour and fifteen minutes.

Staff recommends you purchase tickets through their website to secure a tour time and date as capacity is limited due to COVID-19 regulations: https://thelostsea.com/

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes
Cost: $23.95 for adults 13 and up, $13.95 for children 4-12, children 3 and under are free
Website: https://thelostsea.com/
Location:140 Lost Sea Rd, Sweetwater, TN, 37874

3Bell Witch Cavern

Bell Witch Cave
Photos from Bell Witch Cave Website

*Currently, the cave and farm are closed until further notice due to Covid-19. If you have any questions please contact (615) 696-3055.

The prevailing account is that the Bell Witch claimed to be the spirit of Kate Batts, a mean old neighbor of John Bell who believed she was cheated by him in a land purchase. On her deathbed, she swore that she would haunt John Bell and his descendants. The story is picked up by the Guidebook for Tennessee, published in 1933 by the Federal Government’s Works Project Administration. The Bell farm is in a secluded area in Adams, Tennessee and it is a very beautiful representation of the state of Tennessee with it’s rolling green hills and farmland. If you are interested in paranormal activity or if you are a history buff then the Bell Witch Cave and Farm will definitely not disappoint. If you like canoeing or kayaking the Red River is a great river to navigate and enjoy the beauty of Tennessee.

4Appalachian Caverns

Photo from Appalachian Caverns website

Archaeological evidence released in February of 2006 revealed that the caverns were used by Early Woodland Native Americans over 1300 years ago. The archeologists found burnt firewood located in a fire pit that has been radiocarbon dated to 675 A.D. They also found pottery, arrowheads, and other evidence of habitation. According to several historians, the caverns have been used by mankind from the earliest times man set foot on what we now call the United States. The importance of the name the cave was given ties to William Linville, a land agent for Lord Granville who served the King of England. In their time, the cave served as a good place to winter and a safe place to avoid your enemy. The Native Americans had already set up a community and the settlers used many of their ways to survive. The cavern is warm in the winter and cool in the summer when compared to the outside. Later, the cavern was used as a hideout for troops and a hospital to treat the wounded during the wars. During the prohibition era, the cavern was used to produce moonshine. With the flowing water and great ventilation, it was an ideal location. There’s plenty of history and unique sights to see at the Appalachian Caverns.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes, four tours with varying degree of difficulty
Cost: $15-45 for Adults, Senior Citizens (60+) are $12, Children ages 2-12 are $9 and children under 2 are free
Website: appacaverns.com
Location: 420 Cave Hill Rd, Blountville, TN, 37617

5Bristol Caverns

Bristol Caverns
Photo – Bristol Caverns Facebook Page

Bristol Caverns offer unique paved, well-lit walkways that wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved these remarkable caverns from the hardcore of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. Native Americans used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers. Stealing into the area by way of the Underground River and the caverns, they attacked, then disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth. On the tour through the cave, you will trace their path and explore the vast rooms and arches, columns, and natural stone formations with their rich mineral veins, which give the formations beautiful colors of red, blue, gray, brown, and sparkling white.

The tours itself takes you to all three levels of the caverns – from Mayor Preston’s Chamber in the upper section to the winding banks of the Underground River 180 feet below on the cavern floor. Along the Underground River, you will be dazzled by dramatical displays of formations reflected in the streams waters. You can also peer over Lover’s Leap, view the breathtaking Bridal Veil formation and stare in wonder at the dazzling formations of Entrance Hall.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes
Cost: Call for pricing (423) 878-2011
Website: bristolcaverns.com
Location: 1157 Bristol Caverns Hwy, Briston, TN, 37620

6Tuckaleechee Caverns

Tuckaleechee Caverns
Photo from Tuckaleechee Caverns website

Known as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies,” Tuckaleechee Caverns of Townsend, TN offer the earth’s oldest mountain chain and estimated to be between twenty to thirty million years old. The Caverns are rich in history and lore in recent years as well. You will find the “Big Room” on one end of the tour that could almost fit a football stadium inside it. On the other half of the tour, you get to view “Silver Falls”. It falls 210 feet from top to bottom and the tallest subterranean waterfall in the Eastern US. Millions of formations are viewed along the 1.25-mile round trip adventure, making for a truly unique experience.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes
Cost: $20 adults 12 and up, $9 children 5-11 and children 4 and under are free
Website: https://tuckaleecheecaverns.com/
Location: 825 Cavern Road, Townsend, TN, 37882

7Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls
Photo – Ruby Falls Facebook Page

Ruby Falls is the nation’s tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public. Discovered in 1928, Leo Lambert and a team of excavators found a breathtaking waterfall deep within Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Lambert named the falls after his wife, Ruby, and opened the Chattanooga attraction to the public in 1929. Today, Ruby Falls welcomes over half a million visitors each year from around the world. It’s also close to a ton of other attractions, so it’s easy to spend a whole day or weekend exploring the area.

Keep in mind, an inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present.                           

Advance online ticket purchase is required.  Walk-up tickets are not sold onsite at Ruby Falls.

**Social distancing is not possible in the elevator to the cave and during cave tours due to the narrow cavern trail.** 

Ruby Falls guests are advised to follow updated CDC recommendations for counties with a high transmission level by wearing a mask indoors and in the cave during their visit, regardless of vaccination status. Please visit responsibly and self-monitor your personal adherence to the recommendation.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes, several
Cost: $24.95 for adults and $13.95 for kids for a Cave Walk. Ruby Falls also offers Lantern Tours for those ages 5 and up.
Website: rubyfalls.com
Location: 1720 South Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN, 37409

8Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Photo from Raccoon Caverns tour

Raccoon Mountain Caverns consists of over 5.5 miles of underground passageways. While many caves have small areas of formation growth, Raccoon Mountain Caverns has countless, 100% natural formations and is exceptionally well preserved and considered to be one of the most geologically active caverns in the South.

The Crystal Palace Tour is a 45-55 minute guided walking tour through the first 1/4 mile of the cave. This section of the cave has been modified to include lights, pathways, steps, and handrails. Education is the focus of their tours and your guide will explain how caves form, provide a history of the cave, and point out a wide variety of formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, and much more, including rare shield and helictite formations! Guests also have a chance to view cave wildlife including bats and salamanders, as well as ancient fossils.

Face coverings are not required and cave tours are by reservation only.

Guests are required to maintain social distancing of 6 feet or further from all other guests and staff.

Is there a tour? Yes, walking tours and cave expedition tours
Cost: $35-$55 depending on what kind of tour you choose, children 2 years of age and under are not able to participate in tours
Website: raccoonmountain.com
Location: 319 West Hills Drive, Chattanooga, TN, 37419

9The Caverns

The Caverns
The Caverns music venue. Photo from The Caverns Facebook Page.

Located in Grundy County, Tennessee, The Caverns is a world-renowned destination for underground live music, home of the Emmy-winning PBS television series Bluegrass Underground, and a magical cave system for different skill levels of exploration. Inside The Caverns subterranean amphitheater, guests revel in the prehistoric venue’s natural acoustics and otherworldly beauty. Live music inside a cave, it’s a bucket list experience that keeps fans coming back to The Caverns time and again for “The Greatest Show Under Earth.” Daily guided walking tours and adventure cave tours of The Caverns cave system offered 7 days a week.

The Caverns offers daily cave tours that include one of the largest underground rooms in the world at over 3 football fields long and a behind-the-scenes tour of the music venue. Walking tours of these otherworldly caves entwine the unique history of Grundy County, the geology of cave science, and the mythology of cave lore. Tours end on The Caverns world-famous stage.

For thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies, take an Adventure Cave Tour to explore deep portions of the Caverns few have ever seen before.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes, walking tours and cave expedition tours

Guided Cave Tour:
Age 2 and under- FREE
Ages 3 to 12- $12.95 plus tax & fees
Adults ages 13+- $22.95 plus tax & fees

Adventure Cave Tour:
Ages 16+ only- $130 plus tax & fees

Website: thecaverns.com
Location: 555 Charlie Roberts Road, Pelham TN, 37366

10Dunbar Cave

Dunbar Cave
Photo courtesy of the TN State Parks website

Dunbar Cave is a remarkable prehistoric site, not just for Tennessee but for the entire Eastern Woodlands. Dunbar Cave has been used for thousands of years and is the site of significant prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art dating to the 14th century. The park is 144-acres and is located in Clarksville, Tennessee.

For the Mississippian people that lived along the Red River in the 14th century CE, Dunbar Cave was a sacred place. Though the cave is a physical place, the Mississippians believed it to be an actual portal into the Underworld. The Mississippians left many drawings on the walls of the cave, some in charcoal, some carved into the limestone itself. While we do not know exactly what the drawings meant, the symbols hold sacred meanings even today for modern indigenous peoples of the southeastern U.S.

Today, these drawings are protected at Dunbar Cave State Park. During the cave tour season (May – September), you can experience the awe of these drawings for yourself.

All Tennessee State Parks, and most park facilities, are open. Some operations may have occupancy and usage limits. Signage throughout the parks will encourage physical distancing and responsible recreation.

Parks or areas of parks could be closed when the capacity is reached. Check out the Alerts page for the most up-to-date information.

Can you enter? Yes
Is there a tour? Yes
Cost: no cost
*Children 4 and under not allowed
Website: https://tnstateparks.com/parks/info/dunbar-cave
Location: 401 Old Dunbar Cave Rd, Clarksville, TN, 37043