“greatest sight under the smokies”
If you’re going to be visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park this road trip season and you’re planning some epic hiking and caving, let me point you in the direction of Tuckaleechee Caverns. Hidden 150 feet under the mountains, Tuckaleechee is a perfect hidden gem for anyone looking to do some underground exploration.
Located in Townsend, Tennessee, The Tuckaleechee Cavern is a mile long caving system that stretches out underneath the mountains themselves. According to the legends, the Tuckaleechee caves were used in 1850 by the local Cherokee tribe to hide from the European settlers.
The caves were officially discovered by a group of sawmill workers who noticed water pouring into a very large sinkhole. According to the workers, the water was disappearing into what they realized was a massive cave system hidden behind a thin sheet of rock.
By 1931 the cave was officially open to the public, but the fun only lasted for a year thanks to the Great Depression. Tuckaleechee Cavers re-opened in 1953 after two Townsand locals, W.E. Vananda and Harry Myers, took it upon themselves to carry out the huge renovation job. It was slow going, but once the National Speleological Society got involved, the group discovered a massive open cave they called “the big room”, and the rest was history.
“The Big Room”, is a massive open area that stands 150 feet deep and 300 feet across. Just to give you an idea of how big it really is, Mammoth Cave National Park is only 120 feet high, The Big Room has stalagmites that measure in at 24 feet high alone. For obvious reasons it’s a favorite stop on the Tuckaleechee Caverns guided tour.
A few years after the discovery of "The Big Room", yet another massive chamber was found. Amazingly the new area had a 200-foot high double waterfall, which is now know as Silver Falls, and is an amazing sight to see!
If you’re going to be driving through the Great Smoky Mountains, do yourself a favor and take a detour to Townsend for an afternoon of exploring at the Tuckaleechee Cave. Guided tours run until November so you’ve got plenty of time... whatever you do, don’t forget your camera! -Roadtrippers
The cave is noted for its onyx formations, "Big Room," and high waterfalls. Tours are conducted along lighted walkways. AAA star attraction. Carved over tens of thousands of years in one of the earth's oldest mountain chains, Tuckaleechee Caverns at Townsend, Tenn., 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.
Great tour! Very informative. Easy to walk and the tour last about 1.75 hours. Beautiful cavern. I would highly recommend this to anyone.
16$ a person now...be prepared for many steps and a steep climb back out of the cave...very pretty inside
$12 Dollars per person. Open 6 am to 9 pm
This little gem was one of the highlights of my summer RV trip this year. What made this cavern such a great stop for me was the shear size of the cavern and the story behind it. Amazing! My family and I loved it. Bring a light jacket, its 58 degrees down there year round. A MUST see if you're in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area.
Wow it was way better then I expected!!!!
Caverns were amazing. Staff was excellent! Highly recommend.
Awesome tour. Loved every minute. Knowledgeable staff and friendly. $16 and worth the stop for sure.
Hours of Operation:
March 15 - March 31 10am - 5pm
April 1 - October 31 10am - 6 pm
November 1 - November 15 10am - 5pm
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- Sun - Sat: 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
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