On your 90-minute guided tour, you’ll boggle at the Big Room, so vast you could fit a football field inside it. Stalagmites up to 25 feet tall jut up from the cavern floors. Experience the breathtaking beauty of Silver Falls, the tallest subterranean waterfall in the eastern United States at 210 feet high.
Native American tribes found sanctuary here. Later, locals used the caves’ cool air to escape sweltering summers. Today, science buffs can marvel at the world’s most sensitive seismic station–tracking the movements of Earth’s crust worldwide from right here!
Tuckaleechee Caverns is 25 minutes from Gatlinburg. The caverns are open seven days a week from Mar. 1 through Nov. 30. Tickets are $22 for adults, $10 for kids ages five to 11, and free for children four and under.
Dramatic lighting glows on sparkling stone. Walk through eerie cavescapes like the Valley of the Moon and the Grotto of the Evil Spirits. Hunt for a gargoyle, find the Lucky Fried Egg, and admire the Glistening Draperies cascading from the ceiling.
An experienced guide leads you on a 55-minute tour and unveils Forbidden Caverns’ secrets. Eastern Woodland Indians used stone from these caverns to fashion arrowheads and knives. See a replica of a homemade still just like moonshiners used to distill white lightning in the caverns’ hidden corners.
Forbidden Caverns is open Apr. 1 to Nov. 30. Tickets are $20 for ages 13 and up, $12 for kids ages five through 12, and kids four and younger are free.
To see Forbidden Caverns and Tuckaleechee Caverns you descend deep underground, but to reach Alum Cave, you’ll head up a mountain! Alum Cave perches on the side of Mt. LeConte, the third-highest peak in the Smoky Mountains. Tie on your hiking boots and make the five-mile round trip ascent to Alum Cave.
On the way up, cross log bridges, walk through an old-growth forest and thread the narrow tunnel at Arch Rock. Alum Cave is a sheltered spot where bluffs overhang the trail, creating a kind of above-ground cave where you can rest before heading back down the mountain.