It all started from an inquiring nature and a willingness to explore. How could there be fish swimming out of the mountain?
So began the curious journey of eastern Carolinian, H. E. Colton, and his local guide, Dave Franklin, over 100 years ago. The lucky result of their exploration is today’s Linville Caverns, an interesting – and comfortable – trip into the world of cave exploration.
Colton was intrigued by how fish could possibly be found swimming out of Humpback Mountain, located at the head of the lush Linville Valley in North Carolina’s northern mountains near Marion. Armed with torches and following an underground stream, the men came upon some of the grandest and most spectacular subterranean caverns yet to be discovered. They found an underground labyrinth of some of Mother Nature’s most spectacular work – mineral deposits with vibrant colors, artistic shapes, and stone passages that lead to room after room of rock formations.
Linville Caverns began development for commercial tours in 1937. Through the years, the level pathways that lead to the caverns have been renovated and renewed and now feature a custom lighting system and modern conveniences that allow guests to visit in complete safety (no danger of flooding).
As is typical for underground caverns, Linville Caverns maintain a constant temperature of 52 degrees – no matter what the weather is on the surface, Linville Caverns will be cool and fairly wet (ground water soaks through the earth, creating a constant source of moisture).
All tours of Linville Caverns are guided, and the guides offer plenty of interesting stories about the geologic history of the caverns, as well as an abundance of local lore and legends about different events that have occurred at the caverns through the decades.
Linville Cavern is open in December and January on Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm. Adult tickets are $8, senior tickets are $7, and children tickets are $6.
Linville Caverns can be reached via the Blue Ridge Parkway (take the Linville Caverns exit, near Marion; turn left onto US Hwy. 221) or from Interstate 40 (take the exit for Hwy. 221 north).
For more information, please call 800-419-0540 or visit their web site, www.linvillecaverns.com.