Bristol Caverns is one of the most stunning – and oldest – attractions in Northeast Tennessee. This gorgeous underground attraction is a popular tourist destination and a photographer’s dream.

One of the largest caverns in the Smoky Mountain region, few places can take you through millions of years of timeless beauty like Bristol Caverns. And on a hot summer day, it’s definitely a cool respite from the heat!

Paved, well-lighted pathways wind through the vaulted chambers and along the banks of the ancient Underground River that carved the caverns from the hard core of the earth 200 to 400 million years ago. Native Americans used the Underground River as an attack and escape route in their raids on settlers during the frontier days. Slipping quietly into the area through the Underground River and caverns, they would attack and then disappear through the rock formations.

You can retrace the same warrior paths while exploring the enormous rooms and arches, columns, and natural stone formations. Millions of years old, these formations display rich veins of minerals that give the formations beautiful colors of red, blue, gray, brown, and sparkling white.

There are three levels to the Caverns, which include Mayor Preston’s Chamber in the upper section and the Underground River, which offers dazzling displays of rock formations reflected in the waters, 180 feet below the cavern floor. You can also take a look over Lover’s Leap, where you can enjoy the magnificent Bridal Veil formation.

Stalactites and stalagmites, some bigger than tree trunks, are jaw-dropping sights. Where some of these formations have grown together, massive columns have been formed reaching from the floor to the ceiling of the lofty rooms. At Bristol Caverns, there is solid stone – and indescribable beauty everywhere you look!