Linville Caverns

Useful Information

Location: At the base of Humpback Mountain in Linville Valley. On Hwy 221, 28km north of Marion.
Open: JAN to FEB Sat, Sun 9-16:30.
MAR daily 9-16:30.
APR, MAY daily 9-17.
JUN to Labor Day daily 9-18.
SEP, OCT daily 9-17.
NOV daily 9-16:30.
DEC Sat, Sun 9-16:30.
Closed on Thanksgiving, 25-DEC. [2005]
Fee: Adults USD 6, Children (5-12) USD 4, Seniors (62+) USD 4.50.
Groups (25+): Adults USD 5, Children USD 4, Seniors (62+) USD 4..
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: electric
Dimension: T=11°C
Guided tours:  
Bibliography: Henry S. Brown (): Linville Caverns Through the Ages,
Cato Holler, Susan Holler (): The Hollow Hills of Sunnalee,
Address: Linville Caverns, PO box 567, Marion, NC 28752, Tel: +1-828-756-4171 or +1-1-800-419-0540. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1822 discovered by a fisherman who was intrigued by the mystery of fish swimming out of the mountain.
1937 start of development by John Q. Gilkey.
01-JUL-1939 opened to the public.
1940 John Q. Gilkey dies, great flood.


Linville Caverns is a nice show cave with a cave river. The fish which are living in both the river outside and the cave, lead to its discovery. The locals saw the fish coming out of the cave and wondered where they came from, so they followed the fish into the cave. The fish living in the cave are Speckled, Brown, and Rainbow trout. They are no true cave animals, but cave visitors.

Like other caves Linville Caverns tries to praise its formations. However, most of them are not even average. But nevertheless the cave is very interesting and well worth a visit. The river passage shows scallops and dolly tubs, there are erosional forms along the walls. The cave is sometimes inaccessible, when the water rises and the path is flooded. There are a few nice spots, where water was standing undisturbed for a very long time and formed nice calcite crystals and cave coral.

A highlight at the end of the tour is the Bottomless Lake, gauged to be 75m deep. A metal bridge allows visitors a gaze deep into the clear water, which is lighted.

During the winter and early spring Eastern Pipistrelle Bat hibernates in this cave.

Linville Caverns was used by Civil War soldiers to hide from enemy troops. Traces of campfires were found in the cavern's central chambers. Local lure tells, that eventually smoke from the fires made it out of the mountainside and so betrayed the soldiers.