Last Updated on October 2, 2022
Last Updated on October 2, 2022
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 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 are located in McDowell County, north of Marion and just south of the unincorporated town of Linville Falls. The caverns are underneath Humpback Mountain, which is part of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
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 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.
Who Discovered Linville Caverns?
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. 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)
Speaking of your guide, there are 30 tours of Linville Caverns each day, running every 15 minutes. Tickets are sold on a first-come-first-serve basis and a maximum of 14 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): $12
- Children (Ages 12 and Under): $11
- Seniors (Ages 62 and Over): $10
- 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.
More Tips for Visiting Linville Caverns (Safety and Accessibility)
- 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.
- The caverns 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.
Ready to Visit Linville Caverns?
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 near Linville Caverns.
Things to Do Nearby
Here are some places that are even closer by.
The Town of Linville Falls
Linville Falls is a small unincorporated town in Avery County, named after the beautiful Linville Falls waterfall in the Linville Gorge wilderness.
Read more: 80+ Amazing Small Towns in North Carolina
Hiking to Linville Falls (and Duggers Creek Falls)
Linville Falls offers a few different hikes. Erwin’s View Trail is the easiest and is about 1.6 miles 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.
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.
Duggers Creek Falls
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.
More Linville Gorge Hikes
The Linville Gorge is considered one of the most rugged of all the mountains in North Carolina. Beautiful views will leave you breathless.
Table Rock 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 to be too difficult overall.
Read more: 100+ Hiking Trails in North Carolina
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 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.
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:
- Little Switzerland (MP 334)
- Crabtree Falls (MP 339)
- Beacon Heights (MP 305)
- Linn Cove Viaduct (MP 305)
- Rough Ridge Trail (MP 303)
Here are some additional guides to places in the Linville Falls area.