East Tennessee is a region of the United States known for its stunning natural beauty. From majestic mountains to sparkling lakes and winding rivers, our region boasts an array of natural wonders that are sure to take your breath away!
Here are some of the most spectacular natural wonders you can explore in East Tennessee:
1. Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls is a spectacular underground waterfall located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was discovered in 1928 by Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast, and is now one of the most popular attractions in the area. The falls are located over 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain and can be accessed through a narrow passage in the cave. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cave to see the stunning rock formations and learn about the history of the falls. The highlight of the tour is the breathtaking view of the 145-foot waterfall, which is illuminated with colorful lights that enhance its beauty. Ruby Falls is a must-see destination!
2. The Lost Sea
The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tennessee, is the largest underground lake in the United States and is a must-visit attraction for anyone interested in natural wonders! The Lost Sea was discovered in 1905 by a group of explorers, and since then, it has become a popular tourist destination drawing visitors from all over the world. Visitors can take a guided tour through the cave system, which includes a boat ride on the Lost Sea. The tour guides provide detailed information about the cave system’s geology, history, and wildlife, making it an educational and entertaining experience. The water in the Lost Sea is crystal clear, and visitors can see a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, swimming in the lake. The Lost Sea is a fascinating and unique destination that offers a glimpse into the hidden wonders of the earth, and it is definitely worth a visit!
3. Fall Creek Falls
Fall Creek Falls State Park is a stunning natural wonder located in Spencer, Tennessee. The park covers over 26,000 acres and is home to some of the most breathtaking waterfalls, gorges, and cascades in the region! The highlight of the park is the 256-foot Fall Creek Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Visitors can take a short hike to the base of the falls, where they can feel the mist and hear the thundering roar of the water. The park also offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, swimming, and fishing. With miles of trails, picnic areas, and scenic overlooks, Fall Creek Falls State Park is a nature lover’s paradise that offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
4. Tuckaleechee Caverns
Tuckaleechee Caverns is a hidden gem located in Townsend, Tennessee, and is one of the most unique underground caves in the eastern United States. The caverns were discovered in the early 1800s and are believed to be over 20 million years old. Visitors can take a guided tour of the cave system, which includes an underground stream, towering stalagmites, and sparkling rock formations. The tour guides provide detailed information about the history and geology of the cave system, making it an educational experience as well as an entertaining one! The highlight of the tour is the “Big Room,” a massive chamber that measures over 400 feet long and 150 feet wide. The room is adorned with hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites, creating a stunning visual display that is sure to leave visitors in awe.
5. Clingmans Dome
Clingmans Dome is a breathtaking destination located in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, straddling the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. At an elevation of 6,643 feet, it is the highest peak in the Smoky Mountains and the third-highest peak east of the Mississippi River. Visitors can take a short hike to the observation tower at Clingmans Dome’s summit, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. On a clear day, visitors can see up to 100 miles in all directions, making it one of the most stunning views in the eastern United States! The hike to the top is steep and challenging, but the views are well worth the effort.
6. Lookout Mountain
Lookout Mountain is an amazing natural wonder located in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The mountain offers breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding area, making it a popular destination for visitors and locals alike. The mountain is also home to several popular attractions, including the famous Ruby Falls, Rock City Gardens, and the Incline Railway. The Incline Railway is a funicular that takes visitors up the steep incline of the mountain, providing stunning views of the city and the surrounding landscape. Rock City Gardens is a beautiful natural attraction that features ancient rock formations, scenic overlooks, and a variety of plants and wildlife. The highlight of the park is the breathtaking view from Lover’s Leap, which offers panoramic views of seven states on a clear day. Lookout Mountain is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Chattanooga, offering a variety of natural and man-made attractions that are sure to impress.
7. Roaring Fork
Roaring Fork is a stunning natural area located just outside of Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The area is named for the rushing waters of Roaring Fork Creek, which runs through the forest, creating a picturesque scene of cascading waterfalls and crystal-clear pools. Visitors can take a scenic drive along the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, which winds through the forest, offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Along the way, visitors can stop at several trailheads and explore the area on foot, with trails leading to waterfalls, historic structures, and stunning overlooks. The area is also home to a variety of wildlife, including black bears, deer, and wild turkey, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and photographers.
8. Foothills Parkway
Foothills Parkway is a scenic drive that winds through the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee. The parkway spans over 70 miles and offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys, with numerous overlooks and pull-offs that provide perfect photo opportunities. The drive is particularly popular during the fall, when the leaves on the trees change to vibrant shades of orange, red, and yellow, creating a stunning display of color. Along the way, visitors can stop at several picnic areas and hiking trails, offering a chance to explore the area on foot and enjoy the natural beauty of the Smoky Mountains.
9. Elkmont Fireflies
The Elkmont fireflies are a rare and simply magical natural phenomenon that occurs in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in eastern Tennessee. For a few weeks in late May and early June, thousands of synchronous fireflies gather in the Elkmont area of the park, creating a stunning display of light that is nothing short of breathtaking! The fireflies synchronize their flashing patterns, creating a mesmerizing display that lights up the forest. Visitors can view the fireflies on a guided tour or on their own, but reservations are required and are issued via a lottery system. The park strictly enforces rules to protect the fireflies, such as no flashlights, cameras, or cell phones. Visitors are encouraged to bring red-light flashlights and to remain quiet and respectful during the viewing.
10. Red Boiling Springs
Red Boiling Springs is a charming small town located in the northern-mid region of Tennessee known for its historic hot springs and rich history. The town got its name from the red-colored water that flows from the natural hot springs, which were discovered by Native Americans and later became a popular destination for health seekers in the late 1800s. Today, visitors can still visit the historic hot springs and soak in the mineral-rich waters, believed to have healing properties for a variety of ailments. The town is also home to several historic buildings, including the Thomas House Hotel, which dates back to 1890 and is said to be haunted by several ghosts.
Whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a beautiful place to relax and unwind, East Tennessee offers a wide range of natural wonders that are sure to leave you in awe. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and head out to explore all that our breathtaking region has to offer!