To experience Chattanooga, Tennessee in a truly unique way, you’ll need to visit one of the many underground caves. The state has some 14,000 total and some of the most famous are within the Chattanooga area. Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall, and Lost Sea, an underground lake near Sweetwater, are popular tourist attractions, but there are so many others to explore.
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Not all of these thousands of caves are open to the public, but luckily for visitors, Raccoon Mountain Caverns is one such. The family-run campground and caverns are located near Lookout Mountain. The cave was opened as a tourist attraction in 1931 by Leo Lambert, the man behind Ruby Falls. At the time, the property was part of a hotel’s farm that supplied for their restaurant. The cool temperatures brought farmers in from the humidity and, soon enough, tourists.
Today, the campground is filled in the summer months with families looking for a unique getaway. In addition to the caves, guests can enjoy go-kart rides, swim in the pool or pan for gemstones. The caves themselves run 5.5 miles underground and remain a constant temperature of 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.
The Crystal Palace tour brings guests to the largest room in the cave, known by the same name, as well as the Hall of Dreams and other rock formations. Wild Cave tours bring guests into unexplored parts of the cave where there aren’t walking paths and lights. You’ll definitely be getting dirty on this tour, so come prepared with a change of clothes. You can also spend the night in the cave if you book in advance.
If You Go
Raccoon Mountain is located at 319 West Hills Road, Chattanooga, Tennessee 37419. It’s open rain or shine daily from 9 am to 5 pm during the week and until 7 pm on Saturdays. The Crystal Palace tour is $17.95 for adults, while the Wild Cave tour starts at $35.00 and increases for length of tour and equipment rental. The Chattanooga Adventure Pass includes admission to Ruby Falls, which is also located at Lookout Mountain.
From downtown Chattanooga, take I-24 westbound (towards Nashville) and go about 4 miles to exit #174. Turn right at the bottom of the ramp then go 1.3 miles and our entrance will be on your left.
Looking for a place to stay in Chattanooga? Raccoon Mountain has cabins and campsites for RVs and tents. Treetop Hideaways and Live a Little Chatt have tiny houses and treehouses. And downtown, there’s nowhere better than The Dwell Hotel.
My visit to Raccoon Mountain Caverns was hosted by the Chattanooga Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, but all opinions are my own.