Bristol Caverns are one of the oldest and most beautiful attractions in Northeast Tennessee, an area familiar with beauty and history! We were first introduced to the incredible underworld of caves in the United States after we explored Cathedral Caverns in Alabama. We always get excited when we see one on our itinerary and were equally as excited when he saw Bristol Caverns scheduled on our recent trip to Northeast Tennessee and Bristol!
Northeast Tennessee is full of history and beauty but there is one location that is older than all the others. The Bristol Caverns is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and for good reason! We arrived at the gift shop about twenty minutes before the trip and were instantly greeted and welcomed by the young people working in the office. We shopped around a little before one of the young men told us to follow him. We were the last tour of the day and were very excited to see that we were the only ones on the tour.
We were led approximately a quarter mile behind the gift shop and shown the small opening that early spelunkers used to get into the cave system. Thankfully now, renovations make it easy to walk into the top chamber of the cave for tours. Immediately, visitors will notice that the pathways are well lit and well-maintained, allowing a safe and comfortable tour of all three levels of the massive cave. Visitors are introduced to Mayor Preston’s Chamber on the upper level, some 180 feet from the underground river below. In the Entrance Hall, tourists can peer over Lover’s Leap and view the incredible Bridal Veil. The hidden lights in the tunnels allow the breathtaking elements of millions of years to be seen in a spell-binding way, leaving visitors gazing at the unique formations and wanting to see even more.
A trip to the very bottom of the cavern is a must if you are capable. The Underground River is so much more than just a clear body of water that flows in and out of the cave. The history of this river goes much deeper. There is no doubt that Native Americans once called this area home and there is some evidence that suggests that warriors of the local tribes may have used the river as both an escape route from danger and to get to the settlers in the region, where they would rob them of their European goods. When you stand and look over this historic waterway, it is not hard to imagine Native American warriors in their canoes, making their way slowly and quietly through the cave until they found themselves on the outside. There is no doubt about it, this cave system is spellbinding.
These remarkable caverns have been forming under the hills of northeast Tennessee for 200-400 million year and what is left vast rooms, arches, and columns. The stalactites and stalagmites offer some of the best photographs you will ever get in a cave so please bring your camera or phone!
The next time you are in Northeast Tennessee, head over to Bristol and take this tour! The cave is open year around except for Easter Sunday, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas. Otherwise, the cave is open Monday- Saturday 9:00am-5:00pm and Sunday’s 12:30pm-5:00pm from March 15-October 31. From November 1 to March 14, the cave is open Monday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm and Sunday 12:30pm-4:00pm. Head over to bristolcaverns.com and get your tour scheduled today!