The Best Caves in Tennessee, USA: Complete List

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Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Are you looking for a new spot to explore some of Earth’s most interesting natural formations? If you’re in the US, don’t overlook the Midwest! We know dozens of fun caves for both Tennessee residents and passionate tourists.

There are over 10,000 caverns in Tennessee. This is estimated at roughly 20% of all the caves in the country.

Although not all these caverns are accessible, many provide lovely, uncommon experiences. In some of them, there are also endangered species of wildlife. Be mindful of them!

You and your family will have a unique experience on a trip if you visit one of these caverns. Without further adieu, let’s look at six of the best caves in Tennessee.

Appalachian Caverns

Native Americans from the Early Woodland period used the tunnels more than 1300 years ago, according to archaeological findings published in February 2006. The archaeologists discovered burnt firewood in a radiocarbon fire pit dated to 675 A.D.

They also discovered pottery, arrowheads, and other habitation-related artifacts. Many historians assert that people have been using the caverns since they first stepped foot in what is now known as the United States.

The significance of the name given to the cave is related to William Linville, a property agent for Lord Granville who worked for the English King. In their day, the shelter offered a warm haven to spend the winter and a secure location to avoid danger.

A large stalactite formation inside Appalachian Caverns, a cave in Tennessee.

The settlers used many Native Americans’ survival methods because they had already established a community. Compared to the outside, the cavern is warm in the winter and cold in the summer.

Later, during the wars, the cavern served as a hospital to care for the wounded and a hideout for soldiers. Moonshine was made in the cavern during the Prohibition era. It was a perfect position because of the running water and excellent ventilation. The Appalachian Caverns are a great place to learn about history and experience unusual sights.

Bell Witch Cavern

Note: This cave is temporarily closed as of November, 2022.

According to the most widely accepted version, the Bell Witch claimed to be the ghost of John Bell’s nasty old neighbor Kate Batts, who thought she had been duped by him when he bought some land.

On her deathbed, she vowed to torment John Bell and his offspring. The Guidebook for Tennessee, a 1933 work by the Federal Government Works Project Administration, takes up the tale.

An image of the famous Bell Witch Cavern, one of the famous places to go caving in Tennessee.

With its rolling green hills and farmland, the Bell farm, in a remote location near Adams, Tennessee, is a charming portrayal of the state of Tennessee.

The Bell Witch Cave and Farm will not disappoint if you are interested in history or paranormal activities. The Red River is a great river to travel down while taking in Tennessee’s natural beauty, whether you enjoy canoeing or kayaking.

Bristol Caverns

Note: Bristol Caverns is actually for sale, for $4.5 million dollars! If you have $4.5 million dollars to blow, this might be the best way to do it. We would appreciate a modest 5-15% referral fee if you choose to go ahead with this purchase.

Bristol Caverns have one-of-a-kind, paved, well-lit paths that snake through vaulted chambers and beside the banks of the legendary Underground River that hewn these fantastic caverns from the earth’s hardcore 200 to 400 million years ago.

Native Americans attacked and fled from settlers via the Underground River during their raids. They snuck into the region through the caverns and the Underground River, attacked, and vanished as if the earth absorbed them.

You will follow their journey as you tour the cave, discovering the expansive chambers, arches, columns, and natural stone formations with abundant mineral veins that give the formations their stunning red, blue, gray, brown, and brilliant white colors.

The trip takes you through all three levels of the tunnels, from the higher Mayor Preston’s Chamber to the underground floor’s twisting Underground River banks.

Dramatic reflections of formations in the stream’s waters along the Underground River will astound you. You can also look over Lover’s Leap, take in the stunning Bridal Veil formation, and marvel at the brilliant Entrance Hall formations.

Bristol Caverns features many great formations like pillars, stalagmites, and more, shown in this image.

Craighead Caverns and The Lost Sea

One of the most popular caves in the country is the Lost Sea of Craighead Caverns in Tennessee. A guided tour of the caves, which entails a mile-round walk on roomy, sloping trails, kicks off the excursion.

In some sections, the pathways might be highly inclined. Your tour guide will share the fascinating history of the caverns with you as you explore the underground lake and caverns, including how the Cherokee Indians previously exploited the cave and how Confederate forces mined the cave for saltpeter to make gunpowder.

Additionally, they will discuss the extraordinary geological growth of the vast underground rooms and unique structures.

U.S. Interior Department designated the lake, which spans more than 4 acres, as a Registered National Natural Landmark in recognition of the uncommon authorities, sometimes known as “Cave Flowers,” and the unusual natural phenomenon inside the cave.

Since the lake is 140 feet below the surface, getting there may require a hike. It takes around an hour and fifteen minutes to complete the tour.

Learn more about the Craighead Caverns here.

Cumberland Caverns

At Cumberland Caverns, everyone gets lots of excitement and adventure. With more than 32 miles of caves and underground corridors, unique rock formations, lovely waterfalls, and glistening pools, this is a destination for anyone in Tennessee to enjoy.

You and your family may explore the caverns at any time of day thanks to Cumberland Caverns, which offers daily walking tours and overnight caving experiences for the more daring tourists. You will undoubtedly see stunning underground waterfalls and ponds.

An image of the natural formations inside Cumberland Caverns, a cave in Tennessee.

Nickajack Cave

Nickajack Cave, located near Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a limestone cave that spans over 10 miles in length. This makes it one of the longest caves in the southeastern United States. The cave is renowned for its intricate network of passages, chambers, and stunning formations, such as stalactites and stalagmites, that have formed over millions of years.

One of the most notable aspects of Nickajack Cave is its connection to American history and folklore. Legend has it that the cave served as a hideout for notorious outlaws such as Jesse James and his gang during the 19th century. Additionally, the cave played a role in the Civil War, serving as a source of saltpeter—a crucial ingredient in gunpowder production.

An image shows the Tennessee river running through Nickajack Cave.

Exploring the cave today, visitors can sense the echoes of the past and imagine the clandestine activities that may have unfolded within its dark recesses.

In addition, the cave is home to a colony of endangered gray bats, and their presence underscores the importance of protecting this natural habitat.

Learn more about Nickajack Cave here.

Raccoon Mountain Caverns

Raccoon Mountain Caverns has more than 5.5 miles of underground tunnels. One of the most geologically active caverns in the South this site includes innumerable 100% natural formations, whereas many caves only have small areas of formation growth. It is also remarkably well preserved.

The Crystal Palace Tour is a 45-55 minute guided walking tour around the first quarter mile of the cave. Lights, stairs, and railings have been added to this cave area for safety.

Their tours emphasize education, and your guide will explain how caves form, give a history of the cave, and point out a broad range of formations, including the uncommon shield and helictite formations!

Visitors can also see salamanders, bats, other cave fauna, and old fossils. No face coverings are necessary, and reservations are required for cave tours. All guests and workers must maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more from one another.

Learn more about the Raccoon Mountain Caverns here.

Lookout Mountain Cave and Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls, part of Lookout Mountain Cave, situated near Chattanooga, Tennessee, is home to one of the most breathtaking underground waterfalls in the United States. Discovered in 1928 during the excavation of Lookout Mountain Cave, it has expanded into one of several major attractions in the Chattanooga area. There are around 7,000 different caves within an hour of the Chattanooga area alone.

Ruby Falls Cave is now a hotspot for tourism, mostly because of the massive beautiful underground waterfall. Here, visitors watch in awe as thousands of gallons cascade gracefully 145 feet (44 meters) into a crystal-clear pool, creating a mesmerizing spectacle deep within the heart of the cave.

For those interested in formations, there is no shortage here. Illuminated with carefully placed lights, the limestone formations create an enchanting atmosphere.

Interestingly, during the Civil War, Lookout Mountain served as a hospital for both Union and Confederate soldiers. The discovery of Ruby Falls added an extra layer of allure, turning it into a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and those seeking a unique underground experience.

Learn more about Lookout Mountain and Ruby Falls here.

Tuckaleechee Caverns

The earth’s oldest mountain range, Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, Tennessee, is referred to as the “Greatest Site Under the Smokies” and is said to be between twenty and thirty million years old. The lore and history of The Caverns span many centuries.

On one end of the trip, you’ll encounter the “Big Room,” which practically has enough space inside for a football stadium. You have the opportunity to see “Silver Falls” on the other part of the excursion.

The tallest underground waterfall in the Eastern U.S. plunges 210 feet. The 1.25-mile round-trip tour offers views of millions of formations and is a genuinely exceptional experience.

An image shows the many stalactites hanging from the ceiling in the Tuckaleechee Caverns of Tennesee.


In conclusion, yes, Tennessee offers a lot of destinations when it comes to caves. We hope you get to visit each of these top spots or at least our favorite, the Craighead Caverns for its Lost Sea Adventure.

If you are looking for more adventure, Tennessee is neighbor to several other states. Each of these states offer even more caving opportunities. We will be covering each one.

More states to check if you’re in the general Tennessee area:

Alabama Caves

Arkansas Caves

Kentucky Caves

Mississippi Caves

Missouri Caves

North Carolina Caves

Virginia Caves

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