Spelunking in Worley’s Cave in Tennessee
I guess my family and I should be considered adventurous types. Whenever we get the opportunity to take a family vacation we often choose to forgo almost all of the somewhat uneventful, relaxing time in exchange for full-on excitement.
In fact, now that my kids are getting a little older (my youngest having just turned 11), we are beginning to amass a nice list of adventurous, outdoor experiences, and we’re happy to report that this one is probably our most incredible yet. For a great family adventure in Eastern Tennessee, spelunking in Worley’s Cave is a truly incredible and seriously unforgettable experience.
Who’s Up For The Challenge of Caving?
Let me begin by saying that while we were led by two very capable and extremely knowledgeable guides from USA Raft, this was a real, natural cave that’s not equipped with handrails, lights or anything of the kind. And although the excursion is geared for those seven years and older, it really isn’t suited for the faint of heart or those not fond of tight spaces, somewhat strenuous exercise or copious amounts of mud.
It was an extremely challenging adventure and probably the most fascinating, self-motivating and totally awesome thing my family has ever done. Really. In fact, it was such an incredible experience that I’m really struggling with how to accurately describe what we took away — besides the magnificently wondrous sights of the underground world — from our spelunking journey.
Without giving away too much information or assuming that your family would have the same exact feelings as mine, I think I can best sum it up in the following way. During the journey there were a few tears and several moments of “I don’t think I can” from my youngest child; an incredible increase in self-confidence from my more-brave-than-she-ever-realized teen; at least three very serious mental discussions in my own head to talk myself off the psychological ledge; and a couple of “Dear Lord, help me” whispers from my rough-and-tumble husband.
Yes, we were challenged physically, mentally and emotionally, but the great news is we did it and it was extraordinary! At the end of our caving journey, we felt stronger, closer and more invincible than we ever had. We were on what you might call a natural high, and it was all-encompassing.
Why Worley’s Cave?
Centrally-located in Bluff City, Tennessee, Worley’s Cave is fairly easy to get to from major cities in eastern Tennessee and western North Carolina. This attraction offers over 4,000 feet of caverns and tunnels, remains at a constant temperature of about 55° and has been touted as the best natural spelunking spot this side of the Mississippi River.
Worley’s Cave is not a walk-through cave with lights and handrails. Inside, you will be exposed to amazing formations, columns, stalactites, stalagmites, a running stream and even small creatures as this is a living, wet cave in all of its natural splendor. If that’s not enough for you, its length measures approximately 4.4 miles, making it the second longest cave in Eastern Tennessee and the 177th longest cave in the United States. It’s a go BIG or go home kind of place!
Why Go With USA Raft?
When I go all-out on an incredible and somewhat crazy adventure (with quite a bit of both real and perceived danger), I like to feel that my family and I are in good hands. The folks at USA Raft came highly recommended from my trusted travel site (aka Trip Advisor).
The company provides all the necessary gear like hardhats, headlamps and gloves. Plus, all of their guides are highly experienced and extremely capable cave explorers and many of them hold a degree or significant schooling in geology.
Our guides were Ben and Les and other than saying they were life-savers, I honestly can’t say enough to do them justice. Not only did they provide reassuring peace of mind through their incredible knowledge of Worley’s Cave, they also offered priceless encouragement and needed help, both physical and mental, to our entire group. Their enthusiasm kept us all smiling and positive throughout the entire journey. Having them to rely on may quite possibly be the only reason I was able to talk myself off of that perceived ledge I mentioned earlier, and I don’t know about you, but I literally LOVE that in a guide.
Why Not Go Caving?
Really, why not? Real caving or spelunking is one of those crazy, adrenaline rush type of family adventures that I think everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime. It’s the kind of activity that allows you to challenge yourself, break your own perceived barriers, expand your mental and emotional strength and make you even more ready to tackle the world. It breeds both self-reliance and teamwork…and, honestly, what family doesn’t need that?
So go on. Get out there and get GROWING!
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Belonging to the rare breed known as native Floridian, Mary Ellen is a wife, mother and freelance writer, currently living in Sarasota, on Florida’s beautiful Gulf Coast….