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7 Secret Caves In North Carolina You’ve Got To Check Out

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It should be no surprise that North Carolina has a ton of caves – after all, neighboring Tennessee has the most caves in the entire country. NC itself is home to almost 900 caves, though only a few are accessible to the general public.

The ones that are here in the Tar Heel State are remarkable. Now, most of these caves in North Carolina serve as a tourist attraction; they’re a glimpse into an otherwise unseen subterranean world.

Any sort of adventure travel means we’ve got to talk about travel insurance. While these tourism-friendly caves aren’t particularly dangerous, it’s still a good idea to pick up insurance for your trip to cover any twisted ankles or other accidental injuries. Check out TravelInsurance.com to find the right deal for you; they’re my go-to.

Cave Name Cave Type Common Animals Status
Indian House Cave Limestone Cave Bats, Insects Sometimes closed to visitors
Linville Cavern Limestone Cave Bats, Salamanders Open for tours
Worley’s Cave Solution Cave Bats, Cave Crickets Open for explorers
Boone’s Cave Limestone Cave Bats, Insects Open for explorers
Rumbling Bald Cave Limestone Cave Bats, Salamanders Open for explorers
Bat Cave Solution Cave Bats, Cave Crickets Closed
Tory’s Den Solution Cave Bats, Cave Salamanders Open for explorers

1. Linville Caverns: The Only Show Caves In North Carolina

Formations in the Linville Caverns, the only show caves in North Carolina.
Heather O / TripAdvisor

Address: 19929 US-221, Marion, North Carolina 28752

Over in Western North Carolina, located inside Humpback Mountain, lie the Linville Caverns and the underground stream that helped them get discovered in the early 1800s. The Linville Caverns are the only show caves in North Carolina.

The caves’ courteous and experienced guides will show you around the caverns. The top sight to see is the Bottomless Pool. You’ll find the town of Marion less than an hour outside Asheville. This makes a day trip to the Caverns a terrific option if you visit the charming city.

The gorgeous and historic Chestnut Street Inn is my favorite place to stay in Asheville. After you work up an appetite in the Linville Caverns, I highly recommend a hearty meal at Biscuit Head.

See Related: Asheville Weekend Itinerary

2. Boone’s Cave: History and Scenery

Boone's Cave in North Carolina
JUBICO / TripAdvisor

Address: 3552 Boone’s Cave Road Lexington, North Carolina 27292

Named for American pioneer Daniel Boone and his family, who reportedly lived there for a year in 1755, Boone’s Cave is a pioneer-era cave that resides in Boone’s Cave Park. The park has miles of walking or hiking trails, fishing spots, and tons of wildflowers you’ll otherwise only find in the Appalachian Mountains. Here is where you’ll also find the third-largest cottonwood tree in North Carolina.

Part of the appeal of this park for visitors is the variety of wildlife that call the area home or visit during migration. Over 125 varieties of butterflies have been documented, as well as many birds like the yellow-rumped warbler, deer, and all kinds of amphibians and reptiles.

Some tent camping is available on-site, though you may have better luck at one of the area hotels like the Hampton Inn Lexington or the Holiday Inn Express & Suites Lexington North West-The Vineyard.

See Related: Things to Do in Asheville, North Carolina

3. Rumbling Bald Caves: Legendary Views

A person on Rumbling Bald Trail
North Carolina State Parks and Recreation / Facebook

Address: 421 Main St, Chimney Rock, North Carolina 28720

Located, rightly so, in Rumbling Bald Mountain, these caves in North Carolina were created after earthquakes carved them out in the late 19th century. The easiest way to access the mountain (known for incredible rock climbing and hiking) is via Chimney Rock State Park trails. The highest cave in the mountain cliffs is known affectionately as Attic Window.

Situated in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Chimney Rock State Park is also where you’ll find the iconic Chimney Rock. Adventurous travelers will love to see this notable landmark, specifically to get to the top to see the breathtaking view it offers. If you aren’t feeling the Chimney Rock climb, you can get equally incredible views without the hassle on a private helicopter tour.

See Related: Things to Do in Burlington, North Carolina

4. Tory’s Den: Revolutionary Hideout

Tory's Den Cave
North Carolina State Parks and Recreation / Facebook

Address: 1287-1299 Charlie Young Rd, Walnut Cove, North Carolina 27052

Part of Hanging Rock State Park, Tory’s Den or Tory’s Cave is an integral part of the history of North Carolina and the United States. It is said that the cave was a hideout for the Redcoats during the Revolutionary War, but the Continental Army discovered them because of their campfires. Hence the name Tory’s Den, the den of the Tories.

At just half a mile each way to the cave entrance, Tory’s Den and Falls in Hanging Rock State Park is one of the more accessible caves in North Carolina. Easy access to the cave itself leaves plenty of time to explore the rest of the state park to your heart’s content.

See Related: Fascinating Caves in Minnesota to Explore

5. Bat Cave: Closed for Conservation

A brown bat hanging in Bat Cave, North Carolina
North Carolina State Parks and Recreation / Facebook

The largest granite fissure cave in North America, Bat Cave near Lake Lure in Henderson County, has long been a bat preserve for little brown bats and especially the endangered Indiana Bat.

Although one of North Carolina’s popular spots for cavers to explore, the cave is closed indefinitely for public touring due to the spread of white-nose syndrome. The Nature Conservancy oversees this cave.

See Related: Things to Do in Fayetteville, North Carolina

6. Indian House Cave: Hidden Gem

Indian House Cave in North Carolina
Indian House Cave / TripAdvisor

Address: 4198 N.C. 105 N, Banner Elk, North Carolina 28604

In Grandfather Mountain State Park, Indian House Cave isn’t so much a cave as a rock outcropping. Considered an ancient Native American site, seeing this not-so-cavernous cave is still a treat. There are several hiking trails in the state park that you can enjoy before or after your visit, though to get to the cave, you’ll need to venture off of Grandfather Trail. There are no guided tours.

Ensure you check in with the parks department about accessing the cave before visiting. Due to issues with White Nose Syndrome, which is killing an unprecedented number of bats, the cave is sometimes closed to visitors.

See Related: Most Scenic Train Rides in North Carolina

7. Worley’s Cave: Day Trip Destination

Group walking into Worley's Cave
Ttechisbest / TripAdvisor

Address: 461 Timber Ridge Rd, Bluff City, Tennessee 37618

While not actually in North Carolina, Worley’s Cave, a few hours away from the state line in Tennessee, is a terrific day trip opportunity–mainly if you’re staying on the state’s Western side.

Worley’s is on this list because it is widely considered one of the best natural spelunking areas on the East side of the Mississippi River. Also known as Morrill Cave, Worley’s is the second longest cave in Tennessee, just shy of 4.5 miles long.

Worley’s is considered a natural cave, not equipped with handrails, a lighting system, or paved walkways. Because of this, it is not recommended that people explore the cave system alone for safety.

Since it is meant for more serious cave explorers, there are no guided tours; you sign up with the cave owners, pay for parking, and go into the caves. You should bring a headlamp, a portable lantern in case the headlamp goes out, a helmet, and high-sided hiking boots.

See Related: Things to Do in Outer Banks, North Carolina

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