Forbidden Caverns was once only known to the Eastern Woodland Indians who roamed East Tennessee’s forests and mountains in search of good hunting grounds. In the winter the cave was used as a shelter and the river running through it provided a constant supply of water.
It is believed that the source of the water stems from an underground lake located beneath English Mountain. English Mountain has since become famous for it’s spring water. If you’re familiar and you look closely, chert or flint can be found here, but in limited quantities. Each was at one time used to create arrowheads, knives and scrapers by local Indian tribes. There are also many unique calcite formations that are still growing in the cave/ Other rare rock formations found in the cave include the largest wall of rare cave onyx or dripstones known to exist.
There is an interesting Indian legend that details an Indian princess’ fate who was lost in a “hollow mountain of two streams”…” which is forbidden”.
In 1964, a group of businessmen began the initial planning and vast undertaking of opening Forbidden Caverns to the public. Following three years of excavation and development of the vast area, Forbidden Caverns opened to the public in June 1967.
Today, a picturesque valley leads you to the caverns. This route affords all guests a beautiful view of majestic Mount LeConte and English Mountain in the Great Smoky Mountains. A quaint old grist mill-museum, primitive farm houses, and a trout farm are among the many sites visitors might take an interest in along this route.
Forbidden Caverns is but a 35-minute drive from Gatlinburg, 45 minutes if you’re traveling from Knoxville, and should be a stop along the way as you enjoy beautiful East Tennessee and the Smoky Mountains. Most guided tours average only 55 minutes. Free parking is provided for cars and buses and there is a souvenir shop on the premises, refreshments, and a picnic pavilion.