Floating fluffy clouds, mesmerizing mountain peaks, towering evergreen trees, and roaming wildlife of all sorts aren’t the only sights to see in the Great Smoky Mountains. Home to 8,350+ caves, Tennessee has a lot to offer beneath the Smokies! In fact, our beloved state has the most caves in the entire United States. That’s a lot of caves to explore…but honestly, many aren’t suitable for trekking with your family. If you want a fun cave experience that both kids and adults can enjoy, tour Forbidden Caverns near Pigeon Forge, TN!
History of the Caverns
It’s all in the name…or so they say! The name Forbidden Caverns is thought to be derived from an old Cherokee legend, in which a princess becomes lost forever…perhaps because the cave leads to the underworld. True or not, it was a great way to keep kids at bay back then.
Along with legendary tales, Forbidden Caverns was known to be a shelter for Cherokee during hunting trips, especially in winter. With a stream flowing inside, it was a great source of water when needed. Flint can also be found here, which was perfect for crafting scraping tools and arrowheads.
Indeed, the caverns have served a wide range of purposes over the years. From the early 1920s to about 1943, moonshiners built a hidden distillery in the caves, where they used the cavern’s 98% pure water to create (then outlawed) white lightning! You can even see remnants of the bootleg distillery today.
By 1964, plans were underway to open the Forbidden Caverns to the public. After 3 years of development, they were finally revealed in 1967. From shelter to ‘shining to touring, the Forbidden Caverns have played an important part in the history of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Visiting Forbidden Caverns
Let’s go caving! Whether you’re here with family or friends, retreating with coworkers, or bringing students on a field trip, Forbidden Caverns is a unique place to check out when visiting the Pigeon Forge area. Tours last roughly 1 hour and are guided to give you the best experience.
Along your underground journey, you’ll descend several 100 feet and pass centuries-old formations that sparkle. You’ll see onyx, cavern draperies (you know, like stalactites and stalagmites you learned about in science class once upon a time), natural chimneys, a running stream, and even a rock-shaped like the state of Tennessee. With unique lighting throughout, these natural wonders are enhanced, making the grottos pop. And don’t forget about the moonshine distillery left behind!
Throughout the caverns, trails feature lights and handrails for safe expeditions, especially in spots where navigating can get a little tricky. Visitors can also enjoy a stereophonic sound presentation and make a wish at the wishing well wall, which collects money for local charities every year.
What should I wear?
Hovering at about 58 degrees, the caves stay pretty cool and comfortable year-round, which is especially nice if you’re looking for a way to beat the summer heat! We recommend wearing a light jacket just in case and closed-toed shoes because you’ll be on your feet a lot. It’s important that all visitors be prepared to walk for a while through the Forbidden Caverns.
Are there bats?
Yes, you may spot a few brown bats on your cave expedition. No, they’re not after your blood or want your fruit snacks. These guys just want to hang out…literally. As the only mammals that can fly, bats are actually pretty awesome, contrary to popular belief.
Oh, that squeaky sound they make? Yeah, they use echolocation to “see” where they’re going. So, if you hear them, just know they aren’t trying to scare you. They just don’t want to bump into you on their way to their next hangout spot.
What about claustrophobic friends?
Nervous about small spaces or have a friend who’s hesitant to head underground? No worries! Forbidden Caverns features large spaces with high ceilings and roomy paths that help even claustrophobic visitors enjoy their time in the caves.
Take a closer look at the Forbidden Caverns!
Before leaving Forbidden Caverns and heading out to explore Pigeon Forge attractions above ground, be sure to stop by the gift shop. Along with souvenirs, there’s a neat water fountain you have to try! It’s supplied by the underground river running through the caves, which originates from an underground lake beneath English Mountain. Visitors can also grab refreshments and eat at the picnic pavilion.
Is visiting Forbidden Caverns worth the ticket price? In our opinion — definitely! Admission provides a guided tour for about 1 hour through one of the most beautiful caverns in Tennessee and an opportunity to share a unique experience with friends and family. Plus, you’ll be supporting the maintenance of historic and educational caverns to stay open for generations.
Forbidden Caverns Price
Note: admission rates are subject to change.
- Adults (ages 13+) — $20
- Children (ages 5-12) — $12
- Small Children (ages 4 & under) —FREE
Looking for a discount?
Seniors, groups, locals, military, and AAA discounts are available.
Driving to the area? Traveling with a group?
Buses and cars can park for FREE!
If you want to visit the Forbidden Caverns near Pigeon Forge, be sure to plan your Smoky Mountain vacation between the months of April and November as they are closed from December through March. They are also closed on Sundays and Thanksgiving Day to spend time with loved ones.
Forbidden Caverns Hours
Note: last tour leaves at 5:00 p.m.
- 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m., Mon-Sat (April – Nov)
Forbidden Caverns is located less than 30 minutes from Pigeon Forge and about 45 minutes from Gatlinburg, so it’s a convenient place to visit if you’re staying in the area. You can visit the caves, then pop back to Pigeon Forge or Gatlinburg for more fun at local attractions, eateries, wineries, and shops!
455 Blowing Cave Road
Sevierville, TN 37876
Note: Due to COVID-19, Forbidden Caverns is currently not open to the public as a safety precaution for both guests and employees. Fear not! Operations will resume once the pandemic has settled, and safety can be assured. For updated operating hours, do check their website.
Lodging — Above the Ground
Forbidden Caverns is just minutes from our cabins in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Comfortable, accommodating — and above the ground — our nearly 500 cabin rentals in the area boast all kinds of entertaining and relaxing amenities to enjoy on your Smoky Mountain vacation.
From private indoor pools, outdoor hot tubs, and cozy fireplaces to stunning mountain views, theater rooms, and game tables, there’s something for everyone! Plus, we offer tons of homey conveniences to help you feel right at home, including free Wi-Fi, a fully equipped kitchen, paved parking, and a washer/dryer.
Not to mention, we can cater to a large range of budgets with more affordable prices for budget-friendly cabins, as well as luxury properties for those wanting to splurge. Bringing a family pet? Check out our pet-friendly cabins! Big group coming? Our larger lodges reach up to 16 bedrooms and can sleep 60+ guests if needed. And yes, we have romantic, smaller cabins for 2 and family-size properties also.
Ready to plan your Smoky Mountain vacation and see the Forbidden Caverns near Pigeon Forge, TN? We’re here to help! Book your cabin online or ask us any questions at 1.866.513.7885 today. Why wait?