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Looking for a unique attraction while visiting the Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee?
Forbidden Caverns is a cave under the Great Smoky Mountains where natural caverns are large and amazing! Tour guides take you on an fascinating journey through the cave and tell you the history and the science behind the formations. Souvenirs are available to remember this astounding feature under the mountains.
History of the Caverns
The Forbidden Caverns were explored by the eastern woodland native Americans and used as a shelter in the winter. With its continual flow of water, it was the perfect place to wait out winter. Scientists believe this water is from an underground lake under English Mountain, which is known for its spring water.
In the early 1900s, the cave was used as a place to make moonshine. The cave was the perfect place to hide what moonshiners were doing. There’s a replica of a homemade moonshine still on the tour.
In 1964, a group of businessmen opened Forbidden Caverns to the public, so people could learn about the history of the cave and the formations inside. The official opening was in 1967 after years of development to make it safe for people to visit.
Forbidden Caverns Tour
When visiting Forbidden Caverns, you will be given a tour of the caverns. The knowledgable guides will show you through the caverns, explain the history and science behind the caverns, and will answer all your questions! You will see dazzling rock formations that are lit up with colorful lights to highlight their natural beauty. The stream that runs through the caverns is so clear you can see every rock in the water!
All types of formations can be seen in the cavern. There is cave onyx, grottos, and flowstone, plus stalagmites and stalactites. Draperies flow down from the ceiling. Some draperies have water flowing down their surface. Don’t be surprised if you see bats flying around the cave! Bats live in dark, damp places, so Forbidden Caverns is an ideal place for bats to call home.
Things to Know
Forbidden Caverns is an attraction for people of every age. Handrails are available on the tour for children and older guests. Trails are well lit, ensuring guests can see well.
Forbidden Caverns has a temperaure in the upper 50s. A light jacket for anyone who typically gets chilly is appropriate.
Good walking shoes is advisable since you will be walking through the tour, which lasts about an hour. There will be very small water puddles along there tour path.
Parking at Forbidden Caverns is free! The ticket prices are $16 for adults, $10 for children ages 5 to 12, and children ages 4 and younger are free. The reasonable cost makes this one of the most budget friendly things to do in the Smokies! If you are planning on coming with a large group, discounts are offered. Calling ahead to acquire the group special is advisable.
Forbidden Caverns is open Monday through Saturday, and it is closed on Sunday. It is open April through November during the year. They open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
Tuckaleechee Caverns of Townsend, TN. Known as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies” are the highest rating Cave or Cavern of the Eastern United States. Carved inside the earth’s oldest mountain chain and estimated to be between twenty to thirty million years old, the Caverns are rich in history and lore in recent years as well. You will find the “BigRoom” on one end of the tour that could almost fit a football stadium inside it. On the other half of the tour you get to view “SilverFalls”. It falls 210 feet from top to bottom and the tallest subterranean waterfall in the Eastern US . Millions of formations are viewed along the 1.25 mile round trip adventure.
Read about the history of Tuckaleechee Caverns and about the seismic activity station. The history is interesting.
Awarded AAA’s Exclusive Five star Gem attraction List .
Hours of Operation:
March 1st – March 31 10am – 5pm
April 1 – October 31 10am – 6 pm
November 1 – November 30th 10am – 5pm
Gregory’s Cave is an underground cave located in Cades Cove. Drive along the Loop until you reach the John Oliver Cabin. There’s a dirt road with metal bars blocking it on the right. Hike along this road until you see a small picnic area. Just past the picnic area are a few trees with boxes on them. The cave entrance is just past the trees. Gregory’s Cave is the only cave in the national park that was used commercially. The family that owned the property opened it to the public in 1925 and held tours through the cave.
Bull Cave is the deepest cave in the southeastern United States at 924 feet. It is also located in Cades Cove, so you can find both caves in one day. To find the entrance to Bull Cave, start hiking along Rich Mountain Road. Near the beginning of the trailhead, you will notice a side trail, which will lead you to Bull Cave. The cavern got its name because this road was used to transport cattle, and apparently a bull fell in the cave.
Cave on Goshen Prong Trail
There is a Smoky Mountain cave off of Goshen Prong Trail near Clingmans Dome in the national park. The trailhead is located about 2.4 miles off the Appalachian Trail from the Clingmans Dome parking lot. This difficult trail starts out descending down the mountain, and is slick and rocky. The cave isn’t too far down the trail, and it sits on the right, about 40 feet into the rock formation. Again, the National Park Service prohibits visitors from exploring caves due to safety concerns for people and the safety of endangered bat species in the area.
Rainbow Falls Cave
Most people have heard of Rainbow Falls, or hiked to this waterfall, but we aren’t talking about that waterfall! Rainbow Falls Cave is a small waterfall that pours into an underground cave along Schoolhouse Gap Trail. About 1 mile into the hike, there is a junction in the trail. You’ll see a sign that reads “Schoolhouse Gap Trail” and “Turkeypen Ridge Trail.” Past these signs, there is an unmarked trail on the left that will lead you to White Oak Sinks. Take this trail for about 1 mile, and then you will come up on another junction. Take a right at this fork to reach Rainbow Falls Cave. The waterfall is 40 feet tall, and you will be impressed since the water pours into the cave instead of a pool of water!
Blowhole Cave is another hidden Smoky Mountain cave you’ll want to try to find while you’re exploring. This cave is also accessible along the Schoolhouse Gap Trail. Instead of taking a right at the fork to go to Rainbow Falls Cave, take a left to go to Blowhole Cave. You’ll spot the entrance to the cave because it is blocked off by metal bars. The cave exterior is impressive by its sheer size and the fact that it is covered in moss. Blowhole Cave is home to the largest hibernating colony of Indiana bats in Tennessee, which is part of the reason why caves in the area are not accessible to visitors.
The Lost Sea Adventure
Your Lost Sea Adventure begins with a guided tour of the caverns. This involves a ¾ mile round-trip walk on wide sloping pathways. While touring the caverns and underground lake the guides will tell of the cavern’s exciting and colorful history. They will also explain the fascinating geological development of the immense cavern rooms and rare formations. At the bottom of the cave you will take a boat ride on The Lost Sea, America’s Largest Underground Lake.
The Lost Sea Adventure is open every day of the year for tours (except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day). The tour takes approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes. Either before or after your tour you might want to visit the Lost Sea Village where we have several shops. Or take a walk on our self-guided Nature Trail. The gift shops in the Village are open seasonally.
140 Lost Sea Road
Sweetwater, TN 37874
Remember to book your cabin with My Bearfoot Cabins early. Bookings are made by travelers earlier each year, so you don’t want to miss out on that ideal cabin for your family or group.
Pat and Don Kirchhoefer, Owners