Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and we'll send you a FREE Printable NC Waterfalls Checklist!

The Awesome Linville Caverns (How to See Them and 10+ Tips!)

Published by Carl Hedinger. Last Updated on January 30, 2024.

Disclaimer: This site uses demographic data, email opt-ins, display advertising, and affiliate links. Please visit our Disclosure and Privacy Policy pages for further explanation.

Linville Caverns in Western North Carolina is about an hour’s drive from Asheville and also, from Boone. When you step inside, you’ll see why this is one of the most unique attractions in North Carolina.

For starters, this is the only “show cave/cavern” in North Carolina that’s open to the public. Also, if you’re looking for something to do on rainy days, this is an especially inviting place to go.

That’s because of the consistently cool temperatures of 52 degrees Fahrenheit inside. When it’s raining or snowing, or when temperatures outside are blisteringly hot, you can visit for a reprieve—as long as the caverns are open.

Of course, our guide will help you with admission and ticket info. We also detail the history of Linville Caverns, which go back thousands of years.

Here’s what you’ll find below:

  • Where is Linville Caverns?
  • How Did Linville Caverns Form? (Geological History)
  • Who “Discovered” Linville Caverns?
  • How to See Linville Caverns (When to Visit and More Admission Tips)
  • Additional Safety and Accessibility Tips
  • Nearby Things to Do and Places to Go

Read More: 100+ Unique Things to Do in North Carolina

Where is Linville Caverns?

Address: 19929 US 221 North, Marion, NC 28752

Linville Caverns

Linville Caverns are located in McDowell County, north of Marion and just south of the unincorporated town of Linville Falls. These caverns are underneath Humpback Mountain, which is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

They are some of the only caves in North Carolina that are open to the public.

The nearby Linville Gorge’s intensely sloped terrain prevented industrial logging efforts, which is why you’ll find a mostly natural forest here.

Read More: The NC Tripping North Carolina Travel Map

How Did Linville Caverns Form? (Geological History)

Linville Caverns near Marion

Linville Caverns formed over thousands of years due to slow-moving groundwater. This created the “rooms” and unique rock formations that you can see today.

The caves were previously a solid combination of limestone and dolomite, and once combined with air, began creating the formations seen today. The cavern still continues to slowly create formations.

Read More: 50+ Great Things to Do With Kids in Asheville (and Nearby!)

Who Discovered Linville Caverns?

Linville Caverns rocks

The official discovery of Linville Caverns is credited to Henry E. Colton in 1858.

He became curious about the location after noticing trout swimming in and out from the mountainside. Colton then led a fishing expedition to discover where these trout were going.

They found an underground stream and what we now know as Linville Caverns in North Carolina. Further discoveries include bottomless pools, stalactites, and other formations that a tour guide will show you.

In 1937, Linville Caverns opened to the public and have been wowing crowds ever since.

Read More: 125+ Interesting Facts About North Carolina

How to Visit Linville Caverns Today (Admission Tips)

Linville Caverns tour

Speaking of your guide, there are 30 tours of Linville Caverns each day, running every 15 minutes. Linville Caverns tickets are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis and a maximum of 15 people (including underage children) are allowed.

Here are some other Linville Caverns admission tips:

  • Buy your ticket inside the gift shop.
  • It’s highly recommended to buy tickets early because tours can fill up fast.
  • You can buy tickets for a later tour and come back 15 minutes before it starts.
  • Admission is broken down by age:
    • Adults (Ages 13 and Over): $13
    • Children (Ages 12 and Under): $11
    • Seniors (Ages 62 and Over): $12
    • Kids under 5 years old are admitted FREE with adult or senior admission.
  • The caverns are open on the days according to season:
    • March to November: Open Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9:00 am-5:00 pm.
    • December to February: Open Saturdays and Sundays from 9:00 am-4:30 pm.

Linville Caverns Tours and Contact Info

More Tips for Visiting Linville Caverns (Safety and Accessibility)

Linville Caverns things to do
  • Because it is 52 degrees inside throughout the year, we recommend you bring a light jacket, a sweater, or a rain jacket (due to dripping water during periods of rainfall).
  • Comfortable shoes are also highly recommended.
  • Don’t touch anything. Oils from your skin can do longterm damage to the caverns.
  • This segment of the caves of North Carolina are mostly wheelchair accessible except for a few spots.
  • Strollers and backpacks are not allowed on the tour.
  • Pets that can be carried during the entirety of the tour are welcome.

Read More: How to See Waterfalls Park in Newland (near Banner Elk)

Ready to Visit Linville Caverns Near Asheville NC?

We love the history behind Linville Caverns and the fact that its story isn’t over, thanks to those continuously moving rocks. If you’ve visited this natural wonder, we’d love to know about your experiences.

Please share them in the comments below or by email. Either way is welcome.

Before you do, however, here are some more things to do in Linville NC.

Read More: 25+ Amazing Restaurants in Morganton and Nearby! (Map Included!)

Things to Do Nearby

We mentioned Linville Caverns are within an hour of Asheville and Boone (and Blowing Rock). The caverns are also about 30 minutes from multiple other mountain towns, including:

Here are some places that are even closer by.

Read More: 30+ Great Things to Do in Boone (Hikes, Eats, and More in App Town)

The Town of Linville Falls

Linville Falls Winery NC
Linville Falls Winery.

Linville Falls is a small unincorporated town in Avery County, named after the beautiful Linville Falls waterfall in the Linville Gorge wilderness.

Besides visiting the Linville Caverns, we’ve enjoyed sipping wines at Linville Falls Winery and meals at Famous Louise’s Rockhouse Restaurant.

Read more: 80+ Amazing Small Towns in North Carolina

Hiking to Linville Falls (and Duggers Creek Falls)

Linville nearby Linville Caverns

Linville Falls offers a few different hikes. Erwin’s View Trail is the easiest and is about 1.6 miles total round trip. At the top of the trail, you get panoramic views of the falls from overhead through Erwin’s View lookout or Chimney View lookout.

Linville Falls nearby Linville Caverns

The Plunge Basin Trail is labeled a “moderate” 1.4-mile hike that ends at the opposite side of the falls. The last trail is the Gorge Trail, which grants access to the foot of the falls but can be partly inaccessible if the water is too high.

Read More: 80+ Great Things to Do in Asheville (The Asheville Bucket List)

Duggers Creek Falls

Duggar Falls nearby Linville Caverns

Duggers Creek Falls is a short distance from the Linville Falls Visitors Center and features a small 10-foot waterfall in an alcove at the end of the 3/10 mile hike.

Read More: 25 of the Most Beautiful Waterfalls in North Carolina

More Linville Gorge Hikes

The Linville Gorge is considered one of the most rugged of all the mountains in North Carolina State. Beautiful views will leave you breathless.

Table Rock Mountain

Things to Do in Blowing Rock Hike Hawksbill Mountain Burke County
View of Table Rock Mountain from Hawksbill Mountain.

The top of Table Rock Mountain awaits just a mile hike from a Forest Service parking lot. You’ll be greeted with sweeping views of Linville Gorge, Linville River, and Hawksbill Mountain.

This hike is best suited for those okay with steep inclines and rocky, uneven terrain, though it is not deemed too difficult overall.

Read more: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina

Hawksbill Mountain

Table Mountain nearby Linville Caverns
View of Hawksbill Mountain from Table Rock Mountain.

The Hawksbill Mountain Trail is a moderate hike of about 2.4 miles round trip. Based on our experiences, it’s a more gradual slope than Table Rock.

Along the way, you’ll find lovely flowers during warmer months and clearer views of the gorge when it’s cooler outside.

Read More: Things to Do in Morganton

Wiseman’s View

Wisemans View near Morganton North Carolina

Wiseman’s View is an easy walk prefaced with a roughly 4-mile car trip over the bumpy drive through Kistler Memorial Highway. The walk after the drive is 2/10 of a mile to the first upper viewing area.

There are two platforms that require descending stairs, but one that does not. Each of them offers different viewpoints of Hawksbill Mountain, Table Rock Mountain, and more of the Linville Gorge.

Read More: Colorful Fall Hikes in North Carolina (+ 20 Beautiful Places to Explore!)

Nearby Blue Ridge Parkway Stops

Linville Caverns is a few miles away from Milepost 316 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which is also the entrance to Linville Falls. Some other highlights include the following:

Read more: NC Blue Ridge Parkway Hikes (30+ of the Best!)

Here are some additional guides to places in the Linville Falls area.

Leave a Comment