Sure, one of the more popular activities in the Smokies is taking a scenic hike
to the top of a mountain. But have you ever considered taking a scenic hike under
a mountain? We're not joking. The Great Smoky Mountains are home to a couple of
unique attractions that take visitors deep into the heart of the earth. At Tuckaleechee
Caverns and Forbidden Caverns, you may not be able to journey all the way to the
center of the earth, but you can explore the many wonders of nature that are hidden
below its surface.
Tuckaleechee Caverns, which is located near Townsend, and Forbidden Caverns - a
few miles east of Sevierville - are both large, natural cave formations that are
probably as old as the mountains themselves. Within them are a host of sights that
are foreign to us "surface dwellers." Fascinating geological formations, such as
stalactites, stalagmites, chimneys and grottoes, are evidence of some of nature's
most interesting handiwork.
Both locations also feature underground streams flowing through the caverns. The
waters of Forbidden Caverns are believed to originate from a lake source deep within
English Mountain. The stream within Tuckaleechee Caverns comes from a source located
within Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
No matter which caverns you visit (why not try both?), your tour will be led by
a guide, who will point out features of interest along the well-lighted paths. At
Tuckaleechee Caverns, which has been given a Star Attraction rating by AAA, you'll
travel as far as 450 feet below the surface on a tour that lasts an hour and a quarter.
At Forbidden Caverns, you'll journey a half-mile into the recesses of English Mountain
on a one-hour tour that is enhanced with special lighting effects and a stereophonic
A cavern adventure not only offers a fun lesson in geology, but history as well.
The caverns at Tuckaleechee were discovered about 100 years ago and were opened
as an attraction in 1953. Forbidden Caverns has been open since the late 1960s,
and its tours include tales of those who occupied the site before it was an attraction,
including Eastern Woodland Indians and moonshiners of the 1920s and '30s.
Tuckaleechee Caverns is open from early April through mid-November, while Forbidden
Caverns is open from early April through late November, with a few additional operating
days added near the end of the year. Interestingly, no matter what time of year
you visit either caverns, the underground temperature remains a steady 58 degrees.
455 Blowing Cave Road
825 Cavern Road