While the towering peaks, dipping valleys, rustling wildlife, changing leaves, and fields of wildflowers of the Great Smoky Mountains are the views most visitors come to see, Tennessee offers another unique sight. CAVES! Take your explorations underground and experience the unique beauty of life beneath the surface. Tennessee is home to more than 8,350 caves – the most of any state in the United States. And while most aren’t family friendly, there is one place you can go that kids and adults will enjoy. Visiting Forbidden Caverns is a fun and unique way to explore beyond the Parkway in East Tennessee.
The Forbidden Caverns near Pigeon Forge gets its name from a Cherokee legend where a princess is lost in a cave – thought to lead to the underworld – forever. That’s why the caverns were called “forbidden.” And while that may be just a legend, the true history reveals that the Forbidden Caverns was a shelter for the Cherokee while they hunted – particularly in winter. Along with a flowing stream offering a water supply, the cave is home to flint – perfect for tools and arrowheads.
Over the years, the caverns have been the backdrop of many moments. Moonshiners built and ran a distillery here from around the early 1920s to 1943, utilizing the 98% pure water to create their white lightning. By 1964, the Forbidden Caverns was in planning stages for the public. Since that time, it’s been open for guests to enjoy the unique views and learn more about the history on walking tours with knowledgeable tour guides.
Plan Your Visit
Ready to visit? The Forbidden Caverns is great for a homeschool field trip, a fun day with family, or a day with friends or coworkers. Enjoy a 1-hour guided tour, descending 100 feet and passing by sparkling cave formations like onyx, stalactites and stalagmites, rock formations, natural chimneys, a rock in the shape of Tennessee, and a running stream that runs from an underground lake. You’ll even get to see remnants of the moonshine distillery!
Special lighting effects and handrails will lead the way along the trail, and guides will offer insight into the history and natural wonders. There is also a stereophonic sound presentation. You can even make a wish at the wishing well wall, where the bonus is that the money collected goes to local charities!
Prep for Your Visit
The caves stay around 58 degrees year-round, so dress accordingly. Light jackets or layers are always a good idea! Closed-toed shoes that are comfortable are also suggested and know that you’ll be walking quite a bit here.
Will I see bats in the cave?
Yes! Brown bats like to hang out in the cave, but they aren’t interested in you. If you hear them squeaking, it’s their echolocation that helps them “see” where to go. It’s their way of not bumping into you while they move around!
What if I’m claustrophobic?
If small spaces aren’t your thing and the thought of going underground makes you squirm, think again. The Forbidden Caverns has high ceilings and large spaces with wide walkways to ensure you don’t feel too squished.
Grab a souvenir before you head out at the gift shop. Get a unique reminder of your trip, enjoy a snack and sit down at the picnic pavilion, and be sure to try the water fountain that has water from the underground river (from the lake beneath English Mountain).
Forbidden Caverns Tickets
Admission to the caverns includes a 1-hour guided tour of this unique attraction near the Smoky Mountains. Your money goes towards maintaining this historic spot and offering educational opportunities for future generations.
Adults (13+) – $20
Children (5-12) – $12
Young Children (4 and under) – FREE
Discounts are available for groups, locals, military members, and AAA members. Parking is FREE for cars and buses.
The Forbidden Caverns is open April through November, Monday through Saturday. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day. Their hours are 10 AM – 6 PM, with the last tour leaving at 5 PM.
Located less than 30 minutes from Pigeon Forge and about 45 minutes from Gatlinburg, Forbidden Caverns is an easy day trip from your Smoky Mountain cabin.
455 Blowing Cave Rd
Sevierville, TN 37876
Find Your Smoky Mountain Cabin – Above Ground
After exploring underground, come up for some fresh air and the perfect cabin in the Smoky Mountains. We have hundreds of cabins for you to choose from, with options ranging from cozy 1-bedroom cottages to sprawling large group lodges. They feature a huge range of amenities, including private indoor pools, home theaters, game rooms, mountain views, full kitchens, bunk rooms, big screen TVs, hot tubs, and more.
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