Cherokee Caverns

Historic Cherokee Caverns

Useful Information

Location: 8524 Oak Ridge Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37931.
2 km east of the Pellessippi Pkwy junction (Hwy 162/62E). 4 km west of Karns Community on Hwy 62E (Oak Ridge Hwy).
(35.979812, -84.164939)
Open: Guided Tours: all year after appointment.
Haunted Cave: one week before Halloween daily 19-22.
Fee: Guided Tours: free.
Haunted Cave: Adults USD 10.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Copper Ridge Dolomite
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Guided tours:
Address: Historic Cherokee Caverns, 8524 Oak Ridge Hwy, Knoxville, TN 37931, Tel: +1-865-275-5196. 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.


home to American Indians who left torch marks.
1854 local farmer Robert Crudington discovered the cave.
1866 Robert Crudington bought 325 ha of farmland, including the cave.
1929 first commercial tours given by Margaret Crudington, Robert's daughter, under the name Gentry's Cave.
1930 renamed Grand Caverns.
1946 Margaret passed away.
1947 sold, by the family, leased and renamed Atomic Caverns.
1950s redeveloped and renamed Caveman’s Palace and then Palace Caverns.
1960s restaurant built above the cave, trail and lighting improved, cave renamed Caverns Of The Ridge.
1970 cave renamed Cherokee Firesite Ceremonial Caverns.
1970s name shortened to Cherokee Caverns.
OCT-1980 fire destroys the restaurant built over the entrance to the caverns, cave closed.
1989 Scott and Janet Dixon move to the region and redevelop the cave.
OCT-1989 first Haunted Cave.
JAN-1992 the Dixon's moved away.


Cherokee Caverns is the most beautiful and historical cavern in Knox County, Tennessee. That is why it is generally called Historic Cherokee Caverns. All in all it also has a long history of name changes and as a show cave.

The Haunted Cave at Cherokee Caverns is a typical American thing. In the week before Halloween, which is in the night between 31-OCT and 01-NOV, according to folklore the gates to the world of fantasy or the dead or whatever open up in this night. It is a traditional Holiday, similar to the carnival traditions in other parts of the world, but more on the spooky side. A volunteer crew works around the clock to deck out the whole cave with carved pumpkins, props and so-called scare sequences. The visitors have to find their way through the cave, with some parts of almost complete darkness, uneven ground, and typical cave atmosphere. The cave is equipped with stroboscope lights and a lot of artificial fog.

The Haunted Cave was introduced by Jim Whidby, a member and fellow of the National Speleological Society. He regularly visited the cave restaurant during the 1970s, when he was chairman of the caving club in Oak Ridge. It was an idea to support Scott and Janet Dixon, who tried to redevelop the show cave. Unfortunately they did not have any income during the winter months, and so this was thought to support them a little. It worked well, but still they moved away some years later and the cave is not open as a show cave at the moment.

There is a reason why this cave is listed as a show cave, although it is closed. The cave has paths and electric light, and it is possible to visit it. It has open hours, once a year at Halloween, and about a dozen other events every year, and it is possible to make guided trips throughout the year after reservation. However, you should not just drop in, as the cave will be closed.

Knoxville is built on karst, and as always there are a lot of accidents which happened to the city because of this. In 1916 a sinkhole gaped open at State and Clinch, and a newspaper report stated that "great caverns extend under Clinch Avenue and great distances to the east and south." In 1929 during the construction of Henley Street Bridge workers found enormous caves which they filled with concrete. In 1936 a cave-in at Hill and Main swallowed a large automobile. In 1967 workers accidentally opened a cave beneath Market Street.