With over 32 miles of subterranean passageways, rock formations, waterfalls, and glistening pools, Cumberland Caverns is a sight to see! Located in McMinnville, TN, it’s an easy day trip from Nashville (75 miles), Chattanooga (75 miles), and Huntsville (100 miles). This Natural National Landmark is one of the most extensive cave systems in the country.
This cave system is made of limestone and as the photos show, it has a strangely flat ceiling. This is due to water trapped in the limestone causing the rock to break off in sheets, leaving a new smooth layer.
Some of the underground formations take 100 years to grow 1 square inch, that’s about the size of an ice cube! The Neverending Waterfall is another beautiful feature. Extensive measures have been taken to find the origin and destination of the water flowing into the cave, but it remains a mystery.
Cumberland Caverns offers daily walking tours, caving adventures, and even overnight excursions. My purpose for visiting however was entirely different. I went to the caverns for a musical performance that was unlike any other. The world-famous Volcano Room is 333 feet underground and is considered one of the top music venues in the world due to its near perfect acoustics.
The Volcano Room was once the meeting place of two underground rivers. They met, churned, and created whirlpools which eroded the ceiling creating its unique pattern.
This show was one I’ll never forget, and I’ll be checking the schedule for upcoming bands!
These shows are inside a cave, with dirt floors, and a hike to get there. The room stays 57 degrees year round, so be sure to bring a jacket, even when its the middle of a southern summer. I was chilly in a tank and a leather jacket. It seems obvious, but sturdy shoes are a must. There is a 300 meter walk on a gravel road to get to the entrance of the cave then another 300 meter walk to the Volcano Room. There are some hills inside, its not a flat easy walk, so keep that in mind, this also means the cave is not handicap accessible. Wheelchairs and strollers are not allowed inside the cave.
Pre-show cave tours are available with a unique view of the Volcano Room from above, this view is not accessible during the show. There is a concession stand offering burgers, hot dogs, chili, nachos, and non-alcoholic beverages and bathroom facilities.