There are many caves to explore in East Tennessee and we have been through Forbidden Caverns and Tuckaleechee Caverns, so it was time to visit The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, TN.
We took a leisurely drive down Highway 411, avoiding I-75 and enjoying the beautiful East Tennessee countryside. It took about an hour-and-a-half from Sevierville but the time passed quickly as we drove through Maryville and Vonore, then turned west on Highway 68 at Madisonville.
We followed the signs to the entrance and entered through their gift shop and purchased our tickets. We then went into a man-made steel tunnel, sat on benches, received a 10-minute orientation from our guide, Savannah, then entered the caverns.
Unlike most caverns, The Lost Sea is wide open and spacious. There are some low ceilings but nowhere did we have to duck to pass through. Savannah explained the history of the caverns and kept the dialogue flowing with information and fun facts. She was quite funny. She explained how there used to be a bar in the caverns and the low oxygen level kept people from feeling the effects of the alcohol - until they went back up the tunnel and reached the top. Sometimes the alcohol would hit them all at once and they would pass-out and roll back down the tunnel. The bar is no longer there.
After the cave tour we went down to the lake and boarded a glass bottom boat with a trolling motor. We could put our hands in the water until we got halfway across the lake. At that point we had to take our hands out of the water so they could feed the trout that live there. The fish swarmed the sides of the boat for their treats. Normally the fish stay in that feeding area but one trout followed our boat all the way back to the dock. I guess he was a slow learner.
Savannah took us out of the cave and we stopped at the rock formation called "The Bear". This rock is supposed to bring good luck and we were allowed to touch and rub The Bear, which is the only rock that you can touch in the cave.
We shopped in the gift shop for some nice gifts, then went across the parking lot to the glass blower. His shop had very nice hand-made pieces and good prices, and I am going back for the piece he was working on - a wolf howling at the moon.
We bought Mayfield ice cream at the General Store but did not eat at the BBQ Restaurant as it was filled with school kids. We enjoyed our visit and are definitely going back!
For a coupon and more information on The Lost Sea click here: http://www.smokymountainsbrochures.com/Attractions/Sweetwater/TN/Lost%20Sea%20Adventure/18979