Near Blountville, between Bristol and Johnson City.
I 81 exit 69, Hwy 394 east for 4km, turn right onto Feathers Chapel Road. After 200m turn right onto Buncombe Road. After 2,5km turn left onto Cave Hill Road. 800m to the cave.
02-MAR to SEP Mon-Sat 9-18, Sun 13-18.
OCT to 01-MAR Mon-Sat 11-17, Sun 13-18.
Explorer Tours: after appointment, minimum of five people.
Wild Tours: after appointment.
Adults USD 12, Children (4-11) USD 7.50, Children (0-3) free, Seniors (60+) USD 10.
Explorer Tours: Adults USD 20.
Wild Tours: Groups (3+): Adults USD 40.
Groups (6+): Adults USD 35.
Groups (11+): Adults USD 30.
Wild tour: D=4h.
|Address:||Appalachian Caverns Foundation, 420 Cave Hill Road, Blountville, TN 37617-6224, Tel: +1-423-323-2337, Fax: +1-423-279-0992. E-mail:|
|As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.
|675||shelter for a local Indian tribe.|
|19th century||trapper buried in the cave.|
|Civil War||used as a Confederate hospital.|
|1988||bought by Brenda and Jerry Stone, and Bob Joiner.|
|1991||opened to the public.|
|2004||bought by Roger and Susan Hartley and reopened.|
Appalachian Caverns contains coloured speleothems, calcium not only coloured by manganese and iron, but also by copper and many other minerals. Beneath dripstones, there are also helictites, a shield, rimstone pools and cave pearls.
Appalachian Caverns is home to seven species of bats, including the endangered grey bat, which use it as a nursery cave during the spring and summer. It has three huge chambers of more than 400m of length and 40m of height. One is part of the tour, the other two are reserved for the bats. The bats are not the only animals in the cave. There are white catfish of up to 1m length in the cave river, and crustaceans called isopods and amphipods. Now extinct is the mastodon, but a tooth and some bones were found by a local archaeologist and paleontologist. He also found remains of an also extinct ancestor of modern horses.
The cave is known for a very long time, and so it was used as a shelter by a local American Indian tribe for more than 1,300 years. The charcoal of a bonfire in the cave was C14 dated to the year 675. Later, after the arrival of the white man, the cave was used by trappers, one of them found his last rest inside the cave. John Linville, who was killed by an Indian, was buried by his brother Jim in the Passage of Time. But the body was later removed and buried on the surface, although it is not clear when and by whom. Legend tells it was an old Indian, others say it was the brother who returned after a few years to find a proper burial spot. However, the cave was named Linville Caverns because of this incident.
During Civil War this cave, like many others, was used by the army. The Confederates built a hospital inside. Later the cave was used as a garbage dump, and so the new owners had to clean it up. The couple Brenda and Jerry Stone, and Bob Joiner bought this cave in 1988. They removed more than 160 tons of garbage and 150 tons of boulders during the development of the cave.
The cave was renamed Appalachian Cavern to avoid confusion with Linville Caverns in North Carolina, and was opened to the public in 1991 after three years of work. The owners founded the Appalachian Caverns Foundation which managed the cave. The work of this foundation was dedicated to the cleaning and protecting of local caves. But in 2003, because of the divorce of the Stones, the cave was closed and finally sold. It was bought by Roger and Susan Hartley who reopened it soon after.
Spelunking tours are offered into the undeveloped parts of the cave. Participants must be able to make it through the test crawl which is about 30cm high. Helmets and lights are provided but you can bring your own if you want. Wear old clothes which may become dirty and wet, long sleeves and long pants, and bring an extra set of clothes to change into after the tour.