Gatlinburg and Tuckaleechee Caverns in Townsend, TN
Recently, our family took a lovely scenic trip to the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. Taking a fall vacation was a long awaited and much needed treat for all of us. As we drove closer and into the mountain area, the fresh mountain air and beautiful harvest displays of pumpkins, smiling scarecrows and gorgeous mums made us feel like we were in "just a little touch of heaven."
Making our way to our first destination, Gatlinburg, we spent our first few days awing the sights, sounds, tastes and smells of one of the most favorite, fall season, U.S. travel destinations. We also did what most people in Gatlinburg do, we shopped. Passing by, through and into many shops, we did not buy much, but it was just oh, so fun to look. Additionally, a great perk about going in the fall was that many of the shops had sales of up to 70 percent off! We got some great deals on a couple of t-shirts, a souvenir coffee mug, some inexpensive early Christmas shopping gifts and lovely, Indian made jewelry. Our lodging was a great bargain too. We arrived on a Monday and stayed till Wednesday; this was a great time to go, it was easy to get around and less busy - great time for exercise too - brisk, cool air mornings and evenings, with warmer afternoons and lots of walking.
After all the commercial shopping experience and hub bub of awesome Gatlingburg, we wanted to get out into some nature. Tuckaleechee Caverns, about a 20 minute drive from Gatlingburg over to Townsend, TN, was a great choice. Unlike a larger cave system, this cavern is family-owned and operated. Started with only a $500 investment, over a period of 50 years, they have developed the cavern pathways and tunnels, offering a guided tour that is very unique and extremely informative. The highly knowledgeable tour guide tells of the cave's history, limestone rock formations and many little known facts that keep you intrigued to move onto the next area ahead. I was impressed with his repetitive explanation of the difference between a stalactite (coming down from the ceiling) and a stalagmite (going up from the floor). I was certain that the tour he led just hours earlier for a group of 100 elementary school students would leave them with a definite understanding of the difference in the two formations.
If you are going to the Smokies in the fall season, this is the best time to visit the caverns, as this is the dry season for the cave, making more of it accessible without the flooding of underground streams. It definitely is a must see.
This wonder has been answered, tomorrow brings another ...