Have you ever read an old novel that was set in a haunted mansion? The villain of the story almost always slides a bookcase away from a wall to reveal a secret passageway. Deep underneath the mansion lie tunnels that stretch from one end of the estate to the other. Nature has built much the same thing in her underground caverns. And the Smoky Mountains are full of them.
Carved with the force of water over 20 to 30 million years ago, it took tens of thousands of years to shape these tunnels by many estimations. Now you and your family can enjoy the beauty, fun and education these secret, underground compartments offer.
Centuries ago, the Cherokee Indians located the Tuckaleechee Caverns in what is now Townsend, TN. It took until the middle of the 19th century for sawmill workers to discover this magnificent treasure.
The crisp 58-degree air (constant year round) would cool the heat of summer's sting for early settlers. Women, children and men would flock to what is now the entrance to the caverns and take in the breezes. Today, the caverns are open to the public seven days a week.
The caverns themselves are like something from Journey to the Center of the Earth. Twenty-four-foot-high stalagmites and other rock formations tower upward from the floor while gorgeous waterfalls stream down from above. It's beautiful and awe-inspiring at the same time.
With a combination of ruggedness and beauty, Tuckaleechee Caverns give a radically different experience than you would find anywhere above ground. You and your family can explore these incredible sights when you make Tuckaleechee Caverns part of your Smoky Mountain plans.
Not far from Townsend, you'll find another fantastic sight: the Forbidden Caverns in Sevierville, TN. Located less than 20 miles from Townsend, it is possible to tour the Tuckaleechee Caverns and the Forbidden Caverns on the same day.
Have your camera ready because photo opportunities abound! You'll find cascading walls of glossy cave onyx, flowstone slopes, moon-like caves and amazing rock formations.
Opened in 1967, the Forbidden Caverns had previously served as shelter for the Eastern Woodland Indians as well as a hiding place and production house for moonshiners in the 1930s. Today, it presents a wonderful opportunity to view some of nature's most interesting underground landscapes including a crystal clear stream that feeds into an underground lake.
For families, church groups, youth groups, Scout troops or any other group that wants to explore the Smokies from top to bottom, you're sure to marvel at the sights you find. These caverns are the perfect option when you want to avoid the heat on a hot summer day or need a creative indoor activity for a rainy afternoon. Make them part of your travel plans.