Below the scenic hills and farmlands of Tennessee lies a subterranean world featuring more than 10,000 caves. Each location welcomes spelunkers of all skill levels. Cave explorers need merely plan a trip to some of the many caverns situated throughout the state.
The vast Craighead Caverns were discovered by a 13-year-old boy near Sweetwater in 1905. The network was found to have the largest underground lake in the country. The subterranean water mass encompasses 4.5 visible acres and is called The Lost Sea. Exploration of the cave revealed the past presence of Cherokee Indians. The many items found included arrowheads, artifacts, jewelry, pottery, and weapons, which are now on display. The remains and footprints of a Pleistocene jaguar from 20,000 years ago were also found. Visitors can gaze upon the many stalagmite and stalactite formations, including rare anthodites, or cave flowers. Boat tours of the lake are also available.
Expeditions of the caverns in Dunbar Cave State Park revealed that the site was home to humans for thousands of years. Within the cave, guests are privy to view the ancient drawings carved in the limestone by Native Americans, which are dated to 1350 A.D. The pictures depict sun rays, concentric circles, and warriors. Dunbar is also home to several rare animal species that include blind crayfish and long-eared bats.
When having plenty of time to spare, the Cumberland Caves are a great place to explore. A variety of tours are available day and night for the novice or the experienced spelunker. Touring opportunities include overnight excursions that venture through the caves and various destinations around the mountain. Deep within the Earth are more than 32 miles of passageways that include unique formations, sparkling pools, and cascading waterfalls.
The cave was discovered near Blountville in the northeastern region of the state. Woodland Native Americans spent time in the caverns more than 1300 years ago. Local history includes visits by several famous early Americans, including Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett. The caves were also used to hide soldiers during the Civil War. Along with the cave, guests can stay in the campground, tour the settler’s homestead and find treasures in the gem mine.