Known as the “Greatest Sight Under the Smokies,” Townsend’s very own Tuckaleechee Cavern is the ideal spot to get out of the summer heat and into an adventure. This 1.25-mile round-trip cavern adventure takes you past a 210-foot waterfall, a 30-million-year-old cavern room, and so much more. Here’s what you can expect during your trip to this amazing attraction.
When Was Tuckaleechee Cavern Discovered?
Cherokee Indians knew of the cavern for many, many years before white settlers arrived, but the first writings in English about this place are from the late 1700s. Sawmill workers discovered a sinkhole that led them to discover part of the cavern. It became a great place for local kids to go take a nap next to the cool underground draft in the heat of summer. The cavern’s stream drains out into Dry Valley, but not before it falls over 200 feet from one part of the cavern down to another. The deafening roar and splash of water is part of the fun you’ll experience as you explore the opening.
A Popular Spot – for a Good Reason!
These caverns play host to over 50,000 visitors every single year. When it was first opened to the public, only 2,000 people came the first year to see it. The news quickly spread of the massive “Big Room” where huge formations like the Totem Pole and the Palette reside. The cavern is also full of what is called cave onyx, a glittery calcium deposit along the walls. Between this and the waterfall, people of all ages love visiting this cavern. The tour guides are lots of fun, and always go out of their way to make the tour worthwhile.
What Else Is in There?
Because the cavern is so old, there are certain parts that just can’t be explored. We do know that there is another very beautiful room near the Big Room with tons of rock formations similar to the “ribbon flowers” that hang from the ceiling of the Big Room. But opening this part to the public could damage the cavern, so tour guides can only tell you about the beautiful area. But here’s a fun fact: In the past, something else that used to be down in the cave was a full service restaurant! In the 1950s, the owners brought in some tables and fine linens, and served a meal to spelunkers.
Give Your Kids a Lifelong Love
There are over 8,000 caves in Tennessee, so that means there are plenty for a budding cave lover to explore. Take your kids to Tuckaleechee this summer to get them started with a fun new love of adventure and places unknown. The cavern is open for tours from 10:00 in the morning to 6:00 at night during the summer, so be sure to get there early for a good spot!