Cave Life March 2017

Welcome to the Cumberland Caverns “Cave Life” Newsletter.

A US National Natural Landmark located in McMinnville, Tennessee, Cumberland Caverns was discovered in 1810 by a land surveyor named Aaron Higgenbotham. Since then, the cave has been an important part of not only the history of Warren County, but also the War of 1812 and the Civil War, by the mining of saltpeter-which is used in the production of gunpowder.

In early years, the cave was a hot spot for hay wagon parties and an unofficial meeting place for the community. In 1956, fueled by the dream of Tank Gorin, Roy Davis, and A.W. Powell, Cumberland Caverns opened its doors to the public. The first years were slow, only seeing approximately 500 guests per year, but with the addition of several adventure tours, concerts, specials, and caveman campouts (that’s right, you can sleep in our cave), the attendance soared to over 52K in 2016.

In 2008, Todd Mayo visited the cave with his family and upon crossing the balcony overlooking the Volcano Room lit by a massive antique crystal chandelier, he envisioned a grand concert hall filled with people and incredible music. He, along with his business partner Todd Jerrell, began producing an Emmy Award winning concert series shown on PBS from 333’ below. “Bluegrass Underground” and “Live from the Underground” offers not only the best in Bluegrass, but appeals to everyone with a wide range of Country, Americana, Rock, Soul, Jazz, Blues and everything in between. Concerts are held monthly and a listing of shows and more info can be found on their website at:

Bring your family and friends to experience what others from all 50 states and 19 different countries already know there is something magical about Cumberland Caverns!

Cumberland Caverns is now offering two of our most popular adventures as overnight excursions:

Higgenbotham’s Revenge (ages 12 and up) and Parts Unknown (ages 16 and up). Step out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary when you take on one of our overnight Caveman Campouts. We have combined extreme hiking with underground camping for exciting adventures you and your crew will be talking about for years to come.

Whether you are looking for an escape or want to test your abilities, we have a spelunking trek that is just right for you. Call us today at 931-668-4396 and let us book the adventure of a lifetime for your group. 

Going Batty at The Cave

Approximately 1500 little brown bats (scientific name: Myotis lucifugus) make Cumberland Caverns their home. Typically, bats live in areas of the cave that are not frequented by guests, but we do have a few who like to hang around on the rock ledges and overhangs of the Daily Walking Tour trail.

Our bats grow to about 3.5” and weigh about 1/4 of an ounce. Not only are they small, but they often blend in with the cave walls and go virtually unnoticed. Sometimes, you will see one fly high above the chandelier of the Volcano Room, but don’t worry, they are harmless and never come into contact with the humans below.

Bats are very important part of the ecosystem. They are the primary predators of night flying insects and studies suggest they consume 70% of their body weight each evening. That’s approximately 1000 insects per hour and nursing mothers can eat upwards of 4000 bugs per hour! Bats are also beneficial in pollination and seed dispersal. Most people think that only birds and bees aid in pollination, but bats are the nightshift of the operation.

If you see bats around your home, have no fear; contrary to the urban myths, bats aren’t looking to take a bite out of you, they are just searching for a safe and warm place to call home.

Bat Facts

  • Bats have excellent eyesight.
  • No vampire bats live in the United States.
  • Some bats hibernate for the winter, but can survive freezing temperatures-even after being encased in ice!
  • Bats typically only have one baby a year and they can distinguish their pup from thousands, even millions of others, by the way it sounds and smells.
  • Bat droppings (guano) are one of the richest sources of fertilizer.
  • The largest bat is the “flying fox” that lives on the islands of the South Pacific. Their wing span can reach up to 6 feet.
  • The smallest bat is the bumble bee bat of Thailand, which is smaller than a thumbnail and weighs less than a penny.