Tennessee natives know that the Volunteer State is full of beautiful sights across the state. From the mountains in the east to the lakes and valleys in the middle and west, there’s something unique to discover. Whether you’re a native or new to the area, take a trek through Tennesee and discover these 5 beautiful spots.
1. The Lost Sea
The Lost Sea is America’s largest underground lake with unknown bounds. Because of the size and unique features, there’s still more to discover about the lake and cave. The visible portion of the lake is roughly 800 feet long and 220 feet wide with a series of large rooms filled entirely with water underneath the surface. More than 13 total acres have been mapped so far. The Lost Sea is exceptionally unique due to its cavern location and is recognized by the United States Department of the Interior as a registered National Natural Landmark. It’s not just large and beautiful, but also unique with an abundance of “cave flowers,” or rare anthodites and some of the largest trout anywhere in North America.
The Lost Sea
140 Lost Sea Road
Sweetwater, TN 37874
*3-3 1/2 hours away
2. Fireflies of the Smokies
As a child, were you fascinated by fireflies in the summer? The Fireflies of the Smokies offers a unique experience that you can’t see in your backyard. In 1680, Dutch physician Engelbert Kaempfer, discovered a type of fireflies that synchronize their lights with each other, while on a voyage in Southeast Asia. While it took a while to understand how it happens, the process today is known as “coupled oscillation.”
In 1992, it was discovered that this unique trait also occurs in a unique species of American fireflies after a scientist thought it weird that it didn’t mention the ones she grew up with in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.
Today, you can view this phenomenon in the same park near Elkmont. This is a great event to plan for next summer. Viewings typically take place late May and early June. Specific dates are announced in April. Trolleys run from the Sugarlands Visitor Center to the Little River Trailhead at Elkmont, leaving every 20-25 minutes. The trolley is the only transportation in and out unless you are a registered camper at Elkmont. Space is incredibly limited, so if you want to see it, you need to register.
Fireflies of the Smokies at Sugarlands Visitor Center
1420 Fighting Creek Gap Rd, Gatlinburg, TN 37738
*4-5 hours away
More info here
3. Rock City
Rock City, located just outside Chattanooga, has become a popular attraction in East Tennessee. Home to Lover’s Leap and Rainbow Hall among other great adventures, Rock City offers some of the most beautiful sights throughout the year. Lover’s Leap is particularly unique as you can see up to seven different states at the spot, while Rainbow Hall’s beautiful colored glass lets you see what the world would look like in different color lights. Rock City also features the rare white Fallow deer and so much more. For one of the largest and most beautiful gardens in Tennessee, make a plan to visit Rock City.
1400 Patten Road, Lookout Mountain, GA 30750
*2-3 hrs away
4. Big South Fork National Park
Covering a massive 125,000 acres of the Cumberland Plateau, the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area features a huge array of scenic gorges and sandstone bluffs to explore in the park. It also has a rich and diverse history dating back 10,000 years. With five camping grounds, there’s plenty of space to relax for a weekend (or longer). While you’re there, take a dip at Bandy Creek Swimming Pool.
Big South Fork National Park
4564 Leatherwood Road, Oneida, TN 37841
*3-4 hours away
More info here
5. Ozone Falls
Ozone Falls is a 43-acre natural area in Cumberland County and is one of Tennessee’s most heavily-visited state natural areas, because of its close proximity to Interstate 40. Ozone Falls plunges 110 feet over a sandstone cap rock into a deep, rock-strewn pool. Fall Creek then disappears underground, re-emerging several yards downstream. An impressive rock house “amphitheater” that was created over geologic time by wind, water, freeze/thaw, and erosion provides the backdrop for the falls. Because of its picturesque beauty and easy access, Ozone Falls was selected for filming scenes for the movie “Jungle Book.”
On the eastern edge of the Crab Orchard Mountains on the Cumberland Plateau in Rockwood, TN
*about 2-2 1/2 hours away