Last summer we topped our anniversary vacation with a 3 hours action-packed guided tour inside Worley’s Cave, located near Bluff City, TN (~an hour drive from Asheville). We used the services of USA Raft and Mountain Adventures and the cost was $50 per person + tax.
Things to know before you go
• The cave tour lasts about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
• Safety gear is provided (helmet and head-lamp)
• Need to wear comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting caked with mud, and potentially ripped.
Best to have long pants, long sleeve shirt, and sturdy waterproof hiking shoes (I recommend wearing gloves…you will be on hour hands a lot crawling, grabbing and even sliding).
• You will be crawling through very tight passages, jumping over holes and puddles, wading through an underground river, rock climbing and sliding down slick boulders. Sounds like fun?!
• Caving experience is not required (this was a first for me), yet you need to be in shape. Our guide was tremendous: extremely knowledgeable (he is a geologist after all), attentive and engaging. Even though we were exhausted at the end, he made the trip look fun and less daunting.
Worley’s Cave tour highlights
A bucolic meeting spot…the caboose at Bluff City Park by the river. From here we drove to the private property where Worley’s Cave (official name is Morril’s Cave) is located.
Shortly after you enter the cave you will head down the longest crevice of the entire tour. I’m a skinny person but at times I struggled squeezing through. Good news is you get covered in mud so you don’t have to worry about that for the rest of the trip. Also, your adrenaline kicks in high gear and now you’re ready to conquer the cave!
As expected, gorgeous mineral formations abound; here’s a taste of few stalactites.
My favorite stop, the “underground ballroom” where according to local folklore, many parties and moonshine activities took place during prohibition. More historic trivia: the cave was likely inhabited by aboriginal people in prehistoric times, mined for saltpeter in the Civil War, and in the 1900s, had a mill at its lower entrance where the stream exits.
What animals live here? Bats, salamanders, and crayfish. We only spotted a few harmless bats.
Resting before the big boulder climb. Our guide confided later this was one of the trickiest spots. You have to start just right, grab and turn just so, and be really quick on your feet…else you slide back down. We both succeeded on our first try, hurray!
Another squeeze through…not too fond of those, glad I had my gloves and helmet on.
All in all we had a blast! This was indeed a one of a kind adventure.
Here are more Worley’s Cave photos other visitors have posted online.
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