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Linville Caverns in Linville, North Carolina PullOverAndLetMeOUt (1)
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Anna Marie

Linville Caverns; See life inside a mountain

Travel deep below the surface of a mountain and experience life in a cave at Linville Caverns
A woman sipping coffee outside
Hi, I’m Anna Marie. I’m a wife, mother, Irish dancer, and pug mom living in North Carolina. I also love to travel. Come along for the ride! If you see something you like, don’t be afraid to say, ‘Pull over and let me out.’

In the Highlands Region of the North Carolina Mountains, it’s possible to see a mountain from a most unique perspective – from inside the mountain.  Centuries in the making, Linville Caverns in Marion, North Carolina is an “active” cavern where kids of all ages can discover and explore a natural wonder.

Inside a cavern the stalagtites Linville Caverns NC
The scene 1/2 mile below the surface at Linville Caverns.
a lady with a green suitcase

Linville Caverns in McDowell County

Linville Caverns is a short distance off the Blue Ridge Parkway and is open year-round to visitors. Here’s some of what to expect if you and your crew make plans to venture deep inside Humpback Mountain.

Linville Caverns History

Linville Caverns was discovered in the early 1800s by a fishing expedition headed by Henry E. Colton.  Colton and his group were astonished to see fish swimming in and out of what appeared to be solid rock.  Upon further investigation, Colton and crew discovered a hidden world.

Linville Caverns opened to tourists in 1937.  Through the years many changes such as electric lighting and handrails have improved the tour and its appeal. Tour guides do a fantastic job giving the history of Linville Caverns and engaging visitors with fascinating stories of young children lost deep inside or Civil War soldiers who deserted and hid in the dark caverns.

Stalagtite inside Linville Caverns
Get an upclose look at centuries old stalactite and stalagmite

A Natural Wonder

Linville Caverns is an “active” cavern which translates to dripping water and lots of life.  There are amazing formations of flow rock, stalactites, and stalagmites as well as underground creatures.  Look up, look down, look all around; creatures such as trout, spiders, salamanders, and bats inhabit this subterranean environment.

Preparing For Your Tour

One of the “cool” things about Linville Caverns is the temperature.  Inside, the caverns remain 52-degrees year-round.  A lightweight, preferably waterproof, jacket is recommended.

It’s important to choose appropriate shoes for touring the caverns.  Slick soles or heels won’t cut it inside the mountain.  The paths are easy to navigate, but remember, there’s dripping water so it can be slick in spots.

Speaking of the pathways, the tour is wheelchair accessible, with only a couple of places unavailable to wheelchairs.  Kids are welcome, but strollers or backpack carriers are not permitted.  Front kid carriers are allowed.

To preserve the caverns and protect the mineral formations, look with your eyes, not your hands. (Said in my best teacher voice)

Subterranean Creatures

There’s an array of living creatures inside Humpback Mountain.  Among the residents are hundreds of bats.  Though the bats aren’t full-time cavern dwellers, they do hibernate at Linville Caverns.  Keep a keen eye and it’s possible to catch a glimpse of a bat or two.  At the end of the tour a simple foot wiping cleansing routine is carried out in order to prevent the spread of diseases common to these bats.

Trout in a stream inside Linville Caverns PullOverAndLetmeOut
Look closely and you'll see trout swimming.
A stalagtite formation that resembles a pickle in Linville Caverns
What do you see? This formation has several names but most say it looks like a pickle.

Other Tour Details

Tour hours vary depending upon the time of year so it’s advisable to visit the Linville Caverns website prior to your trip. Each tour group can take up to 15 people and tour departures are timed well to avoid creating congestion inside the caverns. Rates are extremely reasonable with ticket prices ranging from $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for senior citizens, $6.00 for children 5-12 years old, and children under 5 are free.  Group rates are also available.

There are a couple of tight spaces, but the guides give plenty of notice should you prefer to hang back and avoid feeling uncomfortable. (I did!)  Even with the electric lighting, it’s still a cavern and fairly dark so it’s good to keep this in mind should you be traveling with small ones who might not enjoy the dark.

Boy in a gift shop looking at rocks and crystals at Linville Caverns Linville, NC
There’s a large gift shop near the entrance to the caverns.

Take Away

Though it was centuries in the making, Linville Caverns is a modern-day geological natural wonder ideal for explorers of all ages. It’s also a great way to experience the North Carolina Mountains from the inside.

Linville Caverns, Inc.
19929 US 221 North
Marion, NC  28752
800-419-0540 – Toll-Free

Sign at the entrance of Linville Caverns in Linville NC

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