The scene 1/2 mile below the surface.
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 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 hand rails 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.
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)
Trout can be seen swimming inside Linville Caverns.
What do you see? This formation has several names but most say it looks like a pickle.
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.
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.
There are beautiful rock formations outside the caverns as well.