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November 27, 2021

Where Every Family Matters

Cool Off in Tennessee’s Best Caves!

Take an easy-peasy road trip with the family to an underground adventure in Tennessee’s coolest caverns.

With 10,000 caves, Tennessee is a must-stop spot for those looking to venture underground. From the largest underground waterfall in the country to a subterranean lake so large its full extent has yet to be discovered, Tennessee’s underground world is teeming with cool legends and surprising sites. 

Some say the Volunteer State boasts the most caves of any state in America. According to Tennessee State Parks, most caves can be found in the eastern two-thirds of the state in areas with limestone, a rock laid down "as calcium deposits on the bottoms of shallow oceans, millions of years ago."

While you can’t enter all of them, 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 majestic underground labyrinths makes for a unique experience for your family. Here's some of our favorites:

CUMBERLAND CAVERNS

1437 Cumberland Caverns Road McMinnville, TN, 37110
Is there a tour? Yes, several including Daily Walking Tours, Daytime Caving Tours and Overnight Caving Tours
Cost: Daily Walking tours: $14 – $99, Daytime Adventures $40 – $125 and Overnight Adventures $47 – $160

It gained notoriety for its Emmy-winning PBS TV series, Bluegrass Underground. Just check out the sound explosion during one of their concerts! While you're there, check out the new The Caverns Above Ground Amphitheater that opened last year.

THE CAVERNS

555 Charlie Roberts Road Pelham TN, 37366
Is there a tour? Yes, walking tours and cave expedition tours
Cost: $22.95 – $130 for adults, depending on what kind of tour you choose and $12.95, children ages 3-12

Cumberland Caverns has been serving up bluegrass music and underground adventure since 2009. Explorers can take advantage of concerts, daytime tours and overnight spelunking trips. Why not make it a weekend and visit the nearby Fall Creek Falls State Park, Rock Island State Park, Center Hill Lake and Savage Gulf — home to some of Tennessee's most mesmerizing waterfalls?

READ MORE: The 10 Best Waterfall Hikes Near Nashville

DUNBAR CAVE

401 Old Dunbar Cave Road Clarksville, TN, 37043
Is there a tour? Yes
Cost: free

Travel back in time to the site of significant prehistoric Mississippian Native American cave art dating back to the 14th century! Sitting on 144 acres, this adventure is family-friendly with guided cave tours, live music, festivals and events throughout the year.

What To Expect When Visiting The Haunted Bell Witch Cave In Tennessee

BELL WITCH CAVE

430 Keysburg Rd, Adams, TN 37010
Is there a tour? Tours are tmeporarily closed due to COVID-19. If you have any questions please contact 615-696-3055.

Seeking something a little…spooky? Head on down to the Bell Witch cave, said to be one of the most haunted places in America. The Tennessee Bell Witch is probably one of the most famous ghost stories across the country. Why is it so well known? Maybe because it is the only ghost claimed to have been seen by a U.S. President, or because there have been more than a dozen eyewitness accounts, including two well-respected ministers.

APPALACHIAN CAVERNS

420 Cave Hill Road, Blountville, TN, 37617
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

Enjoy the majesty of nature at the Appalachian Caverns in Blountville, Tenn. Explore caverns underneath the ground and enjoy a campground, picnic area, gem mine and gift shop. 

BRISTOL CAVERNS

1720 South Scenic Hwy. Chattanooga, TN, 37409
Is there a tour? Yes, several
Cost: $22.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids

Bristol Caverns in northeast Tennessee is complete with paved, well lighted walkways that wind through vaulted chambers along the banks of the ancient Underground River. The river carved these caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago, the website says.

THE LOST SEA

140 Lost Sea Road Sweetwater, TN, 37874
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

Want to see the largest underground lake in North America? Then The Lost Sea is Sweetwater is your destination spot. You can even take a glide on the lake in a glass-bottom boat!

RUBY FALLS

1720 South Scenic Hwy. Chattanooga, TN, 37409
Is there a tour? Yes, several
Cost: $22.95 for adults and $12.95 for kids

Home to the largest underground waterfall in the U.S., Ruby Falls is available for day and nighttime tours. It's a favorite among families who are enchanted by the 145 foot-high waterfall.

CAVERNS — Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground

RACCOON MOUNTAIN CAVERNS

319 West Hills Drive, Chattanooga, TN, 37419
Is there a tour? Yes, walking tours and cave expedition tours
Cost: $22.95-$55 for adults, children ages 3-12 are $14.95

Looking for something a bit more shiny? You can actually pan for gemstones at Raccoon Mountain Caverns in Chattanooga! The vast cave system also offers wild cave expedition tours, camping, cabins and recreational activities, like go-kart riding. It was also listed as TripAdvisor's #1 thing to do in Chattanooga.

*Photos from TN Dept. of Tourism

About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing and Entertainment Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 18-month-old Ezra.