Caves in Gatlinburg are known for their formations believed to have been created in the Paleozoic Era. The time in which these caves were formed was when life was starting to take over on land, when plants, animals, and invertebrates began to flourish. Many of Gatlinburg’s caves are well-known throughout America because of the exploration opportunities provided by tour companies.
The most famous caves are located in parts of the Smoky Mountains, known as havens for plants and wildlife. These areas are usually kept clean because it is one of Tennessee’s various nature preserves. Unfortunately, many people disrespect this area by littering, killing native plants, or taking certain rocks or minerals from the site.
Caves in Gatlinburg provide adventurers with an opportunity to explore mountains while looking at beautiful cave formations created millions of years ago. The shelters allow hikers to see what used to lie under the surface without leaving their home state. Although some believe that these caves are not safe enough for human exploration, others find them relaxing and peaceful. Caves attract other wildlife, too, such as bats, spiders, and hedgehogs.
Gatlinburg has become one of Tennessee’s most popular tourist destinations because of its unique mountains and caves. The natural formations found in Gatlinburg’s mountain ranges are an essential part of the community’s heritage. The cave has always played a significant role in human history, serving a variety of functions. In recent years, they have become popular tourist destinations for nearby national parks, such as the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. They are also famous as local attractions.
5 Beautiful Caves in Gatlinburg
- The Bear Cave
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Forbidden Caverns
- Tuckaleechee Caverns
- Alum Cave Trail
The Bear Cave:
The beauty of the Bear Cave’s formation has been known as one of the most beautiful in the Great Smoky Mountains. Unfortunately, despite efforts to clean up after careless visitors, there is still an abundance amount bear droppings inside, which bear named for its cave on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Scientists discovered a new life form in this cave that helps scientists understand how life first began underwater and then adapted to live on land. This creature is a hydra-like anemone that feeds on green algae, but it looks more like the sea with tentacles sprouting from its body instead of resembling typical amphibians or reptiles. Unfortunately, scientists have only scratched the surface when it comes to understanding these creatures, so they are still largely a mystery.
Located in Gatlinburg, Bear Cave is one of the fascinating caves. It’s not just bear droppings that make it so! The cave has been home to several new species, which are still being studied today by scientists who have made astonishing discoveries here.
Behind the scenes of Bear Cave, scientists have found green algae which feed off bat guano. The cave is one of Gatlinburg’s most popular attractions because it provides a complete understanding of how these formations were formed over time while providing safety information about each place before beginning your journey underground with an experienced guide.
Great Smoky Mountains:
The caves in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are amazing. For example, one cave near Clingmans Dome was formed by water eroding rocks during the Ice Age and closed off naturally with stone when it faced away from where rivers used to flow! Animals like bats, raccoons, opossums, skunks, etc., have been discovered here too.
Several caves within Cades Cove were formed from water erosion over time. In one corner of the cave, there is a place where many piled up rocks on top of each other, and clay was used as plaster to seal cracks in the wall so no light would enter, suggesting people had lived inside for an extended time. One such cave was initially thought to have been a bear den due to its size, but more recently, it has been discovered that this cave had human activity too!
The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is home to 23 caves found in the Tennessee and North Carolina areas. Some include Arch Cave (opened for visitors), Bull Cave (closed due to endangered species using it as a hibernation site), Collins Maple Caves (no longer accessible because its walls were vandalized). In addition, Fairland Caverns and Frozen Niagara Caverns are operational but not regularly open due to water quality issues.
If you’re feeling adventurous, the Smoky Mountains have more than their fair share of caves. Get a taste of Gatlinburg’s natural beauty by experiencing these beautiful wonders. However, some of these caves are in remote areas, and only experienced hikers should enter them.
One of the best-known caves in Gatlinburg is Forbidden Caverns. This cavern was accidentally discovered during the 1930s by a man who explored the mountainside to find lumber for rafting downriver.
There are several theories as to why the entrance was quickly closed off. One view is that the landowner wanted a wide-open space to experience it in its natural state without anyone else around. Another one is he received reports from visitors about strange happenings inside (bodies shown floating in water, glowing lights) and didn’t want an audience for those who were brave enough to venture through these caves.
In 1971, the Forbidden Caverns re-opened with a man who had explored it before. Unfortunately, he charged visitors $1 to go in, and he closed down ten years later due to damage from flooding during heavy rainfall. Finally, in 1989, the cavern opened again after being closed for several more years because it was damaged. Still, it was officially re-opened once and for all by another owner ten years later. Today, you can enjoy this place!
Tuckaleechee Caverns is one of the most famous caves in Gatlinburg. The cave tours are available every half hour and last for about 45 minutes, including a live show as well as a three-dimensional movie. Windy stairs lead from the entrance to Great Hall, which has ceilings 25 feet high and spans over 100 feet long, taking visitors through four chambers – once used by Confederate soldiers after being captured during America’s Civil War.
The cave was discovered in the early 1900s by a man who had been searching for gold. But, instead of finding riches in gold, he saw thousands of formations called stalactites and stalagmites – these are mineral structures formed over thousands of years as water drips down from the ceiling to pool on the floor below it.
The formations formed in caves are unique. The calcium carbonate deposits come from rainfall percolating through limestone on top of which this cave resides and creates such magnificent views within it.
In Tuckaleechee Caverns, the most exciting thing is that visitors can still see the remains of prehistoric people. An archaeologist found animal bones, pottery, and projectile points that prove that it was used as a shelter to hunt during these times.
Hidden on the other side of Tuckaleechee Mountain is another cave called Indian Creek Caverns. This cavern has one mile of surveyed passages and over two miles of untouched passages with four entrances that allow visitors to look out from each entry. Animal bones, such as those found here, include bison, deer, elk, bears, birds, and even sabre tooth tigers.
Alum Cave Trail:
Hikers can enjoy a short hike to Alum Cave Trail, located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Alum Cave Trail offers a fun walk that takes you into the heart of Alum Cave Bluff. Hikers should be prepared to scale steep stairs along the trail, which will take around one to three hours, depending on their fitness level. The hike is 0.6 miles long and passes through primarily forested areas, although sections may have snow or ice covering them during the winter months.
If you plan this trip, then so make sure you’re taking caution before going. The hike towards Alum Cave Bluff is short but steep in some areas. Also, if you suffer from heart conditions, it may be best to avoid this trial due to high altitude and thin air. You can also visit this caves with your kids.
You can find many caves in Gatlinburg. Forbidden Caverns and Tuckaleechee Caverns are open for tours, while Alum Cave Trail is a short hike that takes visitors to one of the most photographed parts of the Great Smoky Mountains. Overall, there are so many wonderful things to see like waterfalls and do in Gatlinburg. Whether you go hiking or take a tour underground, such as the ones mentioned here, you’ll get to explore everything that the town has to offer.