We are asked often, what do you recommend we do while visiting Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains? There are numerous fun activities in the area and you can see most of them while driving into town as a lot of them are located along the Parkway. One of the recommendations that we often tell people is to check out the Smoky Mountain Caverns in the area. They are off the beaten path, but only by a short distance and it is something you will not soon forget after you experience it. If you appreciate nature’s beauty, then this is an activity that both you and your entire family will get a kick out of and enjoy. Tennessee is actually home to the most caves in the United States, with over 8, 350 registered to date. Let’s chat about the caverns in our area!
Forbidden Caverns is located in Sevierville, Tennessee and is known as the “greatest attraction under the Smokies.” These caverns are rich in history and stories. The Eastern Woodland Indians who roamed East Tennessee in search of good hunting grounds used these caves often as a shelter in the winter months. There is also a river that flows throughout the cave and it was used as a constant supply of water. Heard of the famous English Mountain spring water? Scientists actually believe the source of this river to be an underground lake that is located beneath English Mountain. Forbidden Caverns has the largest wall of rare cave onyx and dripstones known to exist. During the twenties and until 1943, these caves were used to make moonshine. In 1964, a group of men began planning the undertaking of opening these caverns as a natural attraction to the public. Officially opening in June 1967, these picturesque and historic caverns have been a favorite among Smoky Mountain vacationers for years! You will get to enjoy a 55 minute tour through these caverns where you can experience an educational, yet fun tour that showcases incredible formations, towering natural chimneys, grottos and a clear stream. You also get to experience special lighting effects and a sound presentation. There are necessary hand-rails at certain areas and the trails are well-lit. If you are visiting during the warmer months of the year, this is a great activity to “cool off.” The temperature is kept at 58 throughout the entire year. In fact, you may even want to pack a light sweater. They are open April through November, Monday through Saturday from 10am to 6pm. They do offer special rates for groups so be sure to call them prior to check on that deal! Rain or shine, this is a great activity for groups of friends or a family vacationing together in the Great Smoky Mountains area.
Nestled in the small town of Townsend, Tennessee is Tuckaleechee Caverns. These caverns are estimated to be between twenty and thirty million years old and are deeply rich in history. There is actually an old legend about these caves. Cherokee Indians hid in these caves until the white man discovered them in 1850. Since the caverns were very cool in temperature they were used for quite a few activities throughout the year, but especially in the warmer months. Local women would take their sewing and other daily chores that were easily moved deep into these caves to get a break from the heat as there were always cool breezes blowing through. Children took their naps inside as well. These same breezes are now piped into the visitor center to help air-condition the place. There is a crystal clear stream that runs through these caves too which certainly helped with the heat. It drains most of the surface water from an Alpine Cove, Dry Valley, located directly above these Smoky Mountain Caverns. Dry Valley received its name before they knew where the water was disappearing to after heavy rains. Men began to settle into this area in the late 1700’s and sawmill workers found these caves from watching heavy rain pour into a sink hole in the area. The hole was filled with debris but one of the men found an opening in the rock and made his way to what is now the entrance of the caverns. In 1931, these Smoky Mountain Caverns were opened to the public by two men that grew up playing in these caves; Bill Vananda and Harry Myers. Tuckaleechee Caverns are open seven days a week. Their hours vary so be sure to check times on their website before you venture out that way.
I have visited these caverns often, from youth and throughout adulthood. Time and time again, I always see something I did not see on prior trips. It is a fun activity when you get to go exploring, being able to explore these Smoky Mountain Caverns in one of the most visited places is quite an experience. Both of these Caverns also offer a small gift shop for you to pick up a quick souvenir to remember your time in the Smoky Mountains. When you are vacationing with us at Bear Crossing Condominiums, be sure to stop by the office so we can give you more tips on having the best time in the Pigeon Forge area! We love to recommend our favorite places to vacationers staying with us and will absolutely point you in the right direction. Hope to see you soon in Pigeon Forge!