Forbidden Caverns

If you’re looking to cool off in Sevierville, head underground…. Seriously.

The Forbidden Caverns, one of the most well-known Sevierville attractions, keeps a temperature of 58 degrees throughout the year and can be a great respite for families, or just yourself, if you’re driving through Sevierville to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge, or Gatlinburg.

Once a place only known to select few, in particular the Eastern Woodland Indians, Forbidden Caverns is now known by people worldwide for its “buried” earthen structures and rock formations. The Eastern Woodland Indians actually used the caverns to their own benefit. When they weren’t traversing East Tennessee’s forests and mountains in search of good hunting grounds, they used the cave in the winter as a shelter. One of the big draws to staying in the caverns, besides its shelter, is the underground river that provided a consistent water supply.

Forbidden CavernsSo where did that river come from? Its source is believed to stem from an underground lake found beneath English Mountain. Famous for its spring water, chert or flint can also be found on English Mountain, but in limited quantities. Indians once used both to form arrowheads, knives and scrapers to use for tribal hunting and battle. Calcite formations can still be found growing in the cave as well as other rare rock formations. English Mountain boasts the largest wall of rare cave onyx or dripstones known to exist anywhere.

Moonshine was distilled in the cave from the early 1920s until 1943. The cave’s never-ending water supply and the isolated locale was a moonshiner’s dream in order to brew their homemade Tennessee whiskey.

It wasn’t until 1964 that a group of businessmen began the task of preparing Forbidden Caverns for its grand opening to the public. Forbidden Caverns finally opened in June 1967 following three years of excavation work on the expansive cave.

Forbidden CavernsIf you’re making a trip to the caverns these days, a picturesque valley leads you right to the caverns’ opening. You’ll see the peaks of Mount LeConte and English Mountain as make your way through the valley toward the caverns. Along the way, stop and take a look at the grist mill-museum, some primitive farm houses preserved from generations past, and a trout farm.

Looking to make a day of it, well Forbidden Caverns is just a 35-minute drive from Gatlinburg, from Knoxville a short 45 minutes, and should figure into your plans if you’re coming through East Tennessee, specifically the Great Smoky Mountains area. If it’s a tour you’re looking for, plan on at least a 55 minute stop. Cars and buses park for free and guests can peruse the souvenir shop and use the picnic pavilion at their leisure.

Bristol Caverns

bcaverns1It is no wonder that with the beauty of the mountains and the great outdoors around the Smoky Mountains that there is beauty under the earth as well.  In Northeast Tennessee, Bristol Caverns has been giving visitors the chance to see that kind of hidden beauty for decades and has become a huge draw for the twin cities of Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA.

The waters of an underground river and other natural forces conspired to form the beauty of Bristol Caverns.  Over time the water and the forces of nature carved the rock causing beautiful formations and features to be developed deep underground.  At this point, the Underground River is 180 feet below the surface and it is continuing to have effects on the formations as it flows through the cavern.  Ancient people and the early pioneers and settlers to the area found the underground chamber, they found these formations and gazed in wonder as they used the naturally cooled chambers and shelter of the caverns.  In modern times, the cavern is now a protected area and tourist attraction.

Some of the formations and features you will see include:

  • Mayor Preston’s Chamber
  • The Underground River
  • Lover’s Leap
  • Bridal Veil
  • Entrance Hall

bcaverns2Guided tours leave from the gift shop area every 20 minutes.  You get walked through the caverns by a trained tour guide, someone that knows the caverns like the back of their hand.  They will make sure that you don’t miss a thing while you are in the caverns.  Bring your camera, listen to the tales of how people have used the caverns over the years, how the rock formation were formed and of course marvel at the beauty of this underground wonderland.

The Bristol Caverns are easy to find.  Get on 349E past the Bristol Motor Speedway.  Stay on 349E for about 6 miles past the speedway.  You will come to the traffic light, travel through the traffic light where the road becomes 435N which is Bristol Caverns Highway.  You will find the caverns on the left about 2.5 miles past the traffic light.  Enjoy your vist!

Bristol Caverns
1157 Bristol Caverns Highway
Bristol, TN 37620