Beautiful and majestic Bristol Caverns – far below the earth’s surface – is a unique and exciting experience you’ll never forget. Paved, well lit walkways wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved these remarkable caverns from t he hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. In the frontier days, Indians used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers. Stealing into the area by way of the Underground River and the caverns, they swooped down on unsuspecting families, then disappeared as if swallowed up by the earth.You will be retracing the same warrior paths while exploring the vast rooms and arches, columns, and natural stone formations of varying size and kinds. These formations, millions of years old, display rich veins of minerals which give the formations beautiful colors of red, blue, gray, brown and sparkling white. Stalactites and stalagmites, some larger than tree trunks and others smaller than straws, fascinate and give play to the Bristol Caverns. Where some of these formation have grown together, massive columns have been formed reaching from the floor to the ceiling of the lofty rooms. With every view, nature’s artistry is at its best and can be seen in the remarkable tumbling cascades and billowing draperies – all of solid stone.
The tours itself takes you to all three levels of the caverns – from Mayor Preston’s Chamber in the upper section to the winding banks of the Underground River 180 feet below on the cavern floor. Along the Underground River, you will be dazzled by dramatic displays of formations reflected in the stream’s waters. You can also peer over Lover’s Leap, view the breathtaking Bridal Veil formation and stare in wonder at the dazzling formations of Entrance Hall. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
For many years, the cavern lay in silence broken only by the sound of the water, the animals that called it home, and the occasional human who made their way into it. It was home to many wild animals, used by local people as a home, celebrated by the Native Americans as a place to hold special meetings, a weekend hangout for local kids and had many other varied uses down through the years. In 1991, it opened to the public as a show cave for the first time in its long and storied history. Since that time, the caverns have had many visitors experience its magnificent chambers. It is a bat sanctuary for the endangered gray bat, as well as home to six other species in the world underneath that many have forgotten exists.
Archaeological evidence released in February of 2006 revealed that the caverns were used by Early Woodland Native Americans over 1300 years ago. Archeologists found burnt firewood located in a fire pit that has been radiocarbon dated to 675 A.D. They also found pottery, arrowheads, and other evidence of habitation.
The log cabin located on the property was built in 1777. Historical documents located in the Sullivan County Archives indicate the caverns and cabin were used as a stopover point and shelter during the harsh winter months as people were making their way westward. Due to the size of the cavern it could house larger groups of people and because of the wind flow, fires could be built for heat and cooking. With the abundance of bat dung (an important ingredient in the making of gunpowder at the time) and the fairly consistent temperature, this made the cavern a good place to stay when the weather was cold.
According to several historians, the caverns have been used by mankind from the earliest times man set foot on in this country. The importance of the name the cave was given ties to William Linville, a land agent for Lord Granville who served the King of England. With such pioneers and trailblazers having ties to the cavern many might say this was yet another point leading into the new world and the westward push began. In those times, the cave served as a good place to winter and a safe place to avoid enemies. Our Native Americans had already set up a community and the settlers used many of their ways to survive. The cavern is warm in the winter and cool in the summer compared to outside. The historic evidence continues to emerge through research.
The cavern was used as a hideout for troops during the battles that covered this land. In addition to previously mentioned uses, it has also served as a hospital to treat the wounded, and later on, the cavern was used to produce moonshine. With the flowing water and great ventilation it was an ideal location.
Come visit with us and take a timeless stroll through the ever-changing caverns. Enjoy a picnic at our picnic area or camp in the campground. For the more adventurous, sign up for an Explorer Tour or Wild Tour and do some crawling around in the undeveloped areas of the cavern. No matter whether you spend a couple of hours or a few days in the cavern, you’re sure to see wondrous beauty.
Worley’s Cave is located just a few miles from Bristol, Tennessee in Bluff City, and is touted as one of the best natural spelunking spots this side of the Mississippi. It has over 4,000 feet of caverns and tunnels waiting to be explored. See amazing formations, columns, stalactites, and stalagmites while you are visiting. This is not your ordinary walk-through cave with lights and handrails. Worleys Cave3Worley’s is a living, wet cave in all its natural beauty. If you have never been before, you will need a guide. We offer guided Worley’s Cave Adventure Trips that are affordable for the entire family, scout troop, or youth/college group. You can find out more on the history of the Cave here. Schedule an adventure trip today and discover the wonder of the underworld at a constant, year-round 55 degrees – a great vacation adventure for any time or season!
Camping is great fun and so is exploring a cave, but how about camping inside a cave? Now that would be a story to tell all your friends about! Better yet, bring them along! At Worley’s Cave, you can have a Camp AND Cave Adventure: Friday night camping in the Cave, with a Saturday morning cave adventure OR have your adventure on Saturday, camp in the cave that evening, and head home on Sunday. We will fit your package to your needs. We provide this Camp and Cave Package if you want the “rugged and raw” experience of sleeping in a cave for only $80 per person.
No fire is allowed in the cave, any warmth will be provided by our lanterns. It is a constant 55 degrees in Worley’s Cave year round, so bring layers of clothes to keep you warm. No tent is needed, just a tarp for the ground and a sleeping bag. Worleys Cave4Well ok, you might need a few more things, but you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
If you would like to camp on the grounds under the stars, all you have to do is pay the landowner $5 CASH per person for parking and you can camp in the meadow. There is also a port-a-jon, fire pit, wood in the forest you can use for kindling, and a creek to wash up in.