Thursday, August 9, 2018

Summer Break Fun- Appalachian Caverns

Last month we took a weekend trip to Tennessee to check out the Kingsport Funfest (Avett Brothers concert) and made a few stops along the way. Our first stop was at the Appalachian Caverns in Bloutville, TN.

 When we arrived all of the tour guides were on tours, so we had to wait a bit for a tour guide to become available. Typically tours run about every 30 min. The dude hanging out in the giftshop was a bit of character and kept us entertained while we waited for a guide.

He said he didn't actually work there, and was just helping the owner out and couldn't get his phone working to notify the guides that we were there waiting. He was a lot more stressed out about it than we were.  The gift shop at the caverns was filled with all kinds of pretty things to keep us entertained until a guide was available. The prices were all really reasonable as well. The do have a pressed machine, so i was happy. i love collecting pressed pennies from all of our ventures.

We really enjoyed the cavern tour.  Our tour guide, Stephanie (i believe) was very informative and a great guide. She grew up right across the street from the caverns and spent her childhood playing in them. It wasn't until the 90's that the property was purchased and opened to the public as a tourist attraction.

The caverns are huge. It's the largest show cave in East Tennessee. We did the regular tour and the path was easy to follow. The tour typically lasts 60-75 minutes and is approximately a mile in length. The pathways are a combination of concrete and gravel and there are 27 stair-steps to reach the lower regions and 26 on the way back up.  i had a hard time getting good pictures in the cavern because of the lighting, i had it set to auto and it wanted to take night shots instead of using the flash and so most of them came out blurry. 

One of the neatest things about the cavern was the underground lake and river flowing into it. We even saw a snapping turtle that lives inside the cave lake and a bat sleeping on the rocks.  

Appalachian Caverns offers several different tours including  The Explorer Tour, which takes you off the beaten path, through undeveloped areas of the caverns. Guides will lead you through an alternate entrance/exit of the cave and through more advanced crawling areas. You will be able to try the "7.5 inch" crawl, "Basketball Crawl", "Rocking Chair" crawl, and discover the "Echo Chambers". You are guaranteed to get wet and muddy. There is also a Wild Tour, where in addition to the features of the Regular Tour, you will be guided through some of the undeveloped areas of the caverns. You will be able to explore the "Hum", slide across the well, and try the "Test Crawl". 

You will get wet and muddy on these extended tours, but they sell/rent orange jumpsuits in the giftshop if you don't want to get your clothes dirty. 

We really enjoyed our tour, both kids want to go back and do one of the more extensive crawling tours. They also offer gem mining and have a campground, so i'm sure we'll be back to check that out as well.  Around Halloween time they offer Haunted Cave tours . Definitely not something i would want to do but i'm sure some of you might be interested in that, i know my daughter would love it. 

The formations in this cavern are not spectacular, but i still enjoyed it. i actually liked it better than Luray caverns, because it was just a little different and the tour guide was knowledgeable about the cave, but didn't sound rehearsed.  The pricing at Appalachian caverns was reasonable, we recommend checking it out if it if you are in the area! 


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