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One of the most fascinating places to visit during your vacation in the Smoky Mountains is Forbidden Caverns. Located in Sevierville, TN, this one-of-a-kind attraction takes guests underground to explore a beautiful cave. Guests will enjoy a guided tour filled with information about the cavern’s long history and stunning formations. Along the way, you’ll see stalactites, stalagmites, grottos, and a lovely stream. To enhance the natural beauty of the cave, Forbidden Caverns is equipped with a variety of spectacular colored lights.
Forbidden Caverns is better seen than described, so we suggest watching our video tour of the cave below. Then, read on for four fun facts about this can’t-miss attraction in the Smokies!
1. The Cave Takes Its Name from a Cherokee Legend
The name “Forbidden Caverns” was inspired by an old Cherokee legend from the Smoky Mountains. According to an oft-repeated tale, a Cherokee princess lost her way in a “hollow mountain of two streams…which is forbidden”. In the video above, one of the guides at Forbidden Caverns theorizes that the Cherokee told their children legends about the cave being forbidden in an attempt to keep them from venturing into the caverns alone.
While the cave may have been forbidden for children, Native American adults frequented the caverns. During the winter months, the cave provided a shelter from the cold weather. Forbidden Caverns also offered Native American visitors a constant supply of water. Experts believe that the cave’s water comes from an underground lake located beneath English Mountain.
2. Forbidden Caverns is Always 58 °F
Whether you visit during the dog days of summer or the middle of winter, you will find the temperature at Forbidden Caverns to be a pleasant 58 °F. The cave’s temperature is constant throughout the year because of its underground location. Hidden away beneath the surface, Forbidden Caverns isn’t affected by weather patterns above ground, such as wind chill. The cave’s rocks also absorb much of the heat during Tennessee’s sweltering summers.
3. The Caverns Were a Hideout for Moonshiners
While the Native Americans used Forbidden Caverns to escape from the winter weather, visitors to the cave during the 1920s and 1930s used the caverns for a very different purpose. During Prohibition and the following years, Forbidden Caverns was a favorite hideaway for Tennessee’s famous moonshiners. These entrepreneurs would sneak into the cave to illicitly distill whiskey to sell in town. Forbidden Caverns was the ideal spot to make some white lightnin’ because of its constant supply of water and remote location. Ultimately, the moonshiners were busted in 1943, but Forbidden Caverns keeps their stills on display for visitors to see.
4. The Cave’s Stalactites Took Thousands of Years to Form
Forbidden Caverns is filled with numerous stalactites (which come from the ceiling) and stalagmites (which come from the ground). Stalactites form when water drips from the limestone ceiling of a cave and leaves the chemical compound calcium bicarbonate behind. Stalagmites grow upwards from the drips that fall on the floor of the cave. This process is extremely slow, with each inch of a formation taking at least 100 or 150 years. When you visit Forbidden Caverns, be sure to take a second to appreciate the fact that the stalactites and stalagmites you’re admiring are thousands of years old!
For a complete guide to everything there is to do in the area, check out our Smoky Mountain Attractions page!