Tennessee Natural Wonders
• Appalachian Trail - A portion of the 2,160 mile Appalachian trail from Georgia to Maine runs through Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
• Cades Cove - Located just a few miles from Townsend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is an eleven mile loop road which follows many of the grades and turns of the old wagon roads of the 1800s. Settlers first entered the Cove legally after an Indian treaty transferred the land to the State of Tennessee in 1819. Year after year they funneled through the gaps, driven by whatever haunted them behind or drew them in front, until they spilled over the floor and up the slopes. Most of them traced their way down the migration route from Virginia into east Tennessee (now more or less Interstate 81). Tuckaleechee (modern Townsend) was the last point of supply before the leap into Cades Cove. A few years later pioneers moved directly over the mountains from North Carolina. They all came equipped with personal belongings, and the tools and skills of an Old World culture, enriched with what they learned from the Indians.
• The Lost Sea
Deep inside a mountain near Sweetwater in East Tennessee is a remarkable body of water known as The Lost Sea. Listed by the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s largest underground lake, the Lost Sea is part of an extensive and historic cave system called Craighead Caverns.
The caverns have been known and used since the days of the Cherokee Indians. From the tiny natural opening on the side of the mountain, the cave expands into a series of huge rooms. Nearly a mile from the entrance, in a room now known as “The Council Room,” a wide range of Indian artifacts including pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and jewelry have been found, testifying to the use of the cave by the Cherokees.
• Rock City
Located atop Lookout Mountain, just 6 miles from downtown Chattanooga, Rock City is a true marvel of nature featuring massive ancient rock formations, gardens with over 400 native plant species, and breathtaking "See 7 States" panoramic views. Take an unforgettable journey along the Enchanted Trail where each step reveals natural beauty and wonders along the woodland path. Experience fairytale magic at Fairyland Caverns and Mother Goose Village. Gift shops and restaurant on site.
• Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls is America's largest underground waterfall, accessible to the public. The stroll along an awe-inspiring trail contains countless natural wonders and is climaxed by the natural phenomenon known as Ruby Falls. Fantastic views and world class facilities await all who visit.
• Tuckaleechee Caverns - As young boys, W.E. “Bill” Vananda and Harry Myers of Townsend played near the entrance to Tuckaleechee Caverns and frequently ventured into them. While students at Maryville College in 1949, they got to talking about the feasibility of opening the cave to the public.
When Associated Press Pulitzer Prize Winning columnist Hal Boyle interviewed them about 1960, Myers recalled “We played Tom Sawyer in the main passage as kids. We explored it for three-quarters of a mile, sometimes wriggling on our bellies, and lighting our way with homemade lamps pop bottles filled with kerosene.”
And over a cop of coffee they decided they would try to turn the cavers into a tourist attraction. Nobody would lend them money. Both were married and had two children. They went to Alaska and labored on construction jobs to raise funds.
After fours years of lonely toil the two men had carried in hundreds of tons of sand, cement and gravel on their backs to build steps and passageways they opened the cave in 1953.