The best stories leave you in suspense—and Linville Caverns is brimming with unsolved mysteries.
At the only show caverns in North Carolina, the adventure begins when you pull on sturdy boots and don a waterproof jacket to follow a guide half a mile into the belly of Humpback Mountain. Inside, with 2,440 feet of rock, soil and shimmering minerals over your head, a different world emerges from the darkness. Towering, otherworldly limestone formations drip like flash-frozen waterfalls—some over a million years old. A bottomless pool ripples under your feet as you walk across water; no one knows how deep, but it’s at least 250 feet. And at the right time of year, bats nestle together, suspended in sleep overhead. Shhh, your guide might say, leave them to their dreams.
Linville Caverns was first discovered in 1822, when local fisherman followed rainbow and speckled trout down an offshoot of the North Fork River only to see the fish disappear behind stone and into the mountain. Years later, during the Civil War, army deserters from both sides stumbled upon the same yawning entrance to the caverns, taking shelter for months before smoke from their campfire led to capture. Over the years it has passed hands from public to private ownership, been ravaged by floods, and is now protected and preserved as a natural habitat and historic site.
While the cavern keeps a few secrets to this day—from the depths of rock-bottom and the age of its grandest stalagmites and stalactites, to the truth behind favorite hauntings and folktales—your guide is sure to leave you inspired and informed at the end of this exciting 30-minute tour.
PRE- AND POST-SPELUNKING FUN
Before your tour begins, take advantage of Picnic Tables for games or lunch, the on-property Creek for Wading and Fishing, or the nearby Public-Access Swimming Pool. After your tour, don’t miss the nearby Linville Falls for a moderate hike and spectacular views.
Ask your guide about the many ghost stories—they’re not always told on the usual tour.
BEST TIMES TO VISIT
October—April: when Tricolor and Brown Bats are hibernating inside
May: when wildflowers like Indian Paintbrushes and Lady Slippers bloom
A LOCAL’S TO-DO LIST
- Grandfather Mountain Trails
- Train Rides at Tweetsie Railroad
- Mystery Hill Museums and Axe throwing
- English Farmstead Creamery Cheese Tastings
- Famous Louise’s Rock House Restaurant and Historic Tavern
- Barbecue at Countryside Diner
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