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Tennessee Natural Wonders

Seven of the best natural wonders in Tennessee include Lookout Mountain, The Lost Sea, Virgin Falls Pocket, Tennessee River Gorge, Burgess Falls State Park, Clingmans Dome, and The Sinks.

1. The Sinks

Nestled deep inside Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a natural wonder called The Sinks. Huge cascades of fresh mountain water run over gigantic boulders and eventually flow into a still pool. The Sinks are amazingly beautiful any season of the year.

tennessee natural wondersThe Sinks in Great Smoky Mountains National Park is one of Tennessee's most natural wonders. Image by Jeaneane Payne

2. Tennessee River Gorge

tennessee natural wondersThe Tennessee River Gorge. Image by Michael Hicks

The Tennessee River Gorge is a 26-mile (42 km) canyon formed by the Tennessee River known locally as Cash Canyon. It is the fourth largest river gorge in the Eastern United States. The gorge is cut into the Cumberland Plateau as the river winds its way into Alabama from Tennessee. The Tennessee River Gorge is home to endangered species like the mountain skullcap. Many archaeological sites have been discovered in the gorge that show that people have been dwelling in the canyon for at least 10,000 years.*

3. The Lost Sea

tennessee natural wonders

Your Lost Sea adventure will begin with a guided tour of the caverns. This involves a ¾ mile round-trip walk on wide sloping pathways. While touring the caverns and underground lake guides will tell of the cavern’s exciting and colorful history. They will also explain the fascinating geological development of the immense cavern rooms and rare formations. At the bottom of the cave you will take a boat ride on The Lost Sea, America’s Largest Underground Lake.

4. Lookout Mountain

lookout mountainLookout Mountain. Image courtesy of Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain is home to three top rated, world-famous attractions that showcase the natural and historic beauty of the area, each with breathtaking views of the Tennessee Valley. Trek through Rock City’s natural wonders and “See Seven States” views, discover Ruby Falls, the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States, and ride the Incline Railway, one of the world’s steepest passenger railways.

5. Virgin Falls

virgin falls tn

Virgin Falls is 1,157-acre natural area located in White County. The natural area is named for Virgin Falls, which is formed by an underground stream that emerges from a cave, then drops over a 110-foot high cliff before disappearing into another cave at the bottom of the sink. The area is noted for its unique geological features and several (additional) other waterfalls including Big Laurel, Sheep Cave Falls, and Big Branch Falls. There are several notable caves in the area, including the cave above Virgin Falls, where the stream itself that forms the falls issues.

6. Clingmans Dome

virgin falls tn
A view from Clingmans Dome tower. Image by Jeaneane Payne

Clingmans Dome is a popular destination in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower. The Appalachian Trail crosses Clingmans Dome, marking the highest point along its 2,144 mile journey. Vistas from the tower are spectacular. On clear, sunny days, views expand over 100 miles and into seven states. However, air pollution limits average viewing distances to 22 miles. Breathtaking scenes are always available to those walking to the top of the tower. It is a great place to view and capture pictures of sunrises and sunsets.

7. Burgess Falls State Park

burgess falls state park

Located on the Falling Water River, this day-use park is noted for its natural beauty and four waterfalls that cascade down from over 250 feet in elevation. The last of these falls is the most spectacular, plunging more than 130 feet into the gorge. The area was originally populated by Native Americans of the Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw tribes. These tribes used the land as a hunting ground until the late 19th century when a gristmill and sawmill began operating on the river.

8. Cades Cove

cades cove
Cades Cove; image by Jeaneane Payne

Located just a few miles from Townsend in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cades Cove is an eleven mile loop road which follows many of the grades and turns of the old wagon roads of the 1800s. Settlers first entered the Cove legally after an Indian treaty transferred the land to the State of Tennessee in 1819. Year after year they funneled through the gaps, driven by whatever haunted them behind or drew them in front, until they spilled over the floor and up the slopes. Most of them traced their way down the migration route from Virginia into east Tennessee (now more or less Interstate 81). Tuckaleechee (modern Townsend) was the last point of supply before the leap into Cades Cove. A few years later pioneers moved directly over the mountains from North Carolina. They all came equipped with personal belongings, and the tools and skills of an Old World culture, enriched with what they learned from the Indians.

9. Fall Creek Falls

fall creek fallsFall Creek Falls; image by Dustin Ogdin

Fall Creek Falls, at 256 feet, is one of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States. Other waterfalls within Fall Creek Falls State Park include Piney Falls, Cane Creek Falls, and Cane Creek Cascades.

10. Twin Arches

twin arches

The Twin Arches Trail and Loop Trail have some geological features in Big South Fork, and the Twin Arches are truly the most impressive rock arches in the eastern United States. The North Arch has a clearance of 51 feet, a span of 93 feet and its deck is 62 feet high; South Arch has a clearance of 70 feet, a span of 135 feet and its deck is 103 feet high.
* Source: Wikipedia

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