Smoke Hole Caverns


Useful Information

Location: Cabins, West Virginia.
On Route 28. 13 km W Petersburg, 21 km N Seneca Rocks.
(38.9861, -79.2659)
Open: All year daily 9-17.
Tours 10-16.
Closed Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas.
[2021]
Fee: Adults USD 15, Children (5-12) USD 10, Children (0-4) free, Seniors USD 13.50, Military USD 13.50.
Groups (20+): Adults USD 12, Children (5-12) USD 8.
School Group: Chaperones USD 10, School Children USD 8.
[2021]
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: T=13 °C
Guided tours: D=45-60 min, L=1,072 m.
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography:  
Address: Smoke Hole Resort, 8290 N Fork Hwy, Cabins, WV 26855, Tel: +1-304-257-4442, TollFree: 800-828-8478. E-mail:
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.

History

1940s opened to the public.

Description

Smoke Hole Canyon is a valley, where the south branch of the Potomac River squeezes between North Mountain and Cave Mountain. This valley has steep limestone walls on both sides, some up to 300 m high. Smoke Hole Caverns are located between Hopeville and Cabins. Where the name really came from is uncertain, some claim the Seneca Indians used the entrance area of the caves for smoking wild game. Slow-burning wood fires created clouds of smoke, which were swirling out into the valley. So the place was called Smoke Hole by the early settlers. During the American Civil War the cave was also used to smoke meat by soldiers. Other legends tell that the place was named the rolling mists that cover the region’s canyons in the mornings.

After the Civil War early settlers used the cave for making corn whiskey or moonshine. The cold water of the cave river was used to cool the still. During the heydays up to 20 stills operated at the same time. One of the original stills is on display during the cave tour. Moonshine is the term for illicit liquor, it was made without permit and without paying taxes. The cave was quite popular for the fact that the stills were not visible from outside and accessible only through one cave entrance. According to local lore this habit was reactivated during prohibition.

The cave has quite impressive speleothems, mostly stalactites and stalagmites. There are huge stalagmites with micro gours and some shawls. There is only one main passage so the tour returns the same way to the entrance. The main chamber is called Room of a Million Stalactites, and with its 84 m high ceiling it is said to be the second-highest ceiling of any cavern in the eastern U.S.A.. Another strange superlative of the cave is The World’s Largest Ribbon Stalactite, which is estimated to weigh six tons. We actually have no idea what a "ribbon stalactite" is, its not a scientific term.

Beneath the cave the site offers the Cavern Café, Gemstone Mining, and the Trout Pond at the log cabin resort. The cave is owned by the nearby resort. The trouts from the river in front the cave also enter the cave through the cave river, but they are accidental cave visitors (eutrogloxen).