The Lost Sea is in the Craighead Caverns cave system. The tour is quite interesting, with something for everyone. Geology aficionados will surely appreciate one of its geological features – the anthodites (rare, spiky crystalline structures also known as cave flowers) – found in abundance here.
The return trip is uphill, and fairly steep, so not a good place to take your elderly relatives. The tour is about an hour. The Lost Sea is about 2 hours from Pigeon Forge. Recommend calling ahead to check the clarity of the water. If the water level is low or it has rained recently, the water will be murky.
one of the biggest underground lakes in the us
The underground lake is the largest known in the US, and in fact it’s the second-largest in the world. (Some believe it may actually be the largest, but this is unconfirmed as much of the lake has never been explored or mapped.)
The fish came to be in the lake in an attempt to find the waters’ outlet. It was a fruitless venture, though — they never left. The fish are not white nor are they eyeless; they lose only a bit of color and vision in the dim artificial light. A rare species of cave salamander has been spotted there, but not in quite some time I’m sad to say.
the history of the cave
History nuts will also enjoy the visit — the Cherokee used this cave, as did soldiers during the Civil War. It also housed a Cavern Tavern speakeasy during prohibition, housed military supplies (still there) and served as a local bomb shelter in later years.
The lighting of the caverns spawned the first attempt to bring electricity to this area. The Pleistocene era cat that was found in the cave is kept at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan.
Visit Old Sweetwater Village
Before or after your tour, enjoy the relaxed atmosphere East Tennessee is famous for at the “Old Sweetwater Village.” Step back in time and enjoy shaded walkways leading to authentic log cabins. You will love the General Store, Ice Cream Parlor, Gem Mine and Glassblower. The cafe, The Cavern Kitchen, offers sandwiches and real pit barbeque to hungry visitors. Ample picnic facilities and a nature trail are also available.
Tip: Shops in the “Old Sweetwater Village” may not be open depending on the season.
This was a cool and very interesting trip. It seems the cave has been used in many ways. The lake was interesting as well. We went out on the underground lake in a boat – the body of water is huge. There were fish everywhere and at one point the guide threw food out of the boat and the fish swarmed to eat the food.
He also talked about another larger body of water alongside this cavern that an explorer found underwater. They did tests and thought it was much larger than this cavern. There was a cave-in that collapsed the small underwater access to this cavern so they never did any more exploration.
Tip: We went in the summer and the cavern was much colder than the outside air, so bring a sweatshirt.