In North Carolina, we have the best of everything. In one state we have beautiful beaches and mountains. Living in the Piedmont-Triad region, you can plan a day trip to either the mountains or the beach. Tons of Tarheels (and I mean North Carolinians, not UNC undergrads… booooooooo) take the drive each year to see the wonderment that is the changing of the leaves in the NC mountains. It’s tradition. The beauty of the yellows and oranges and reds of the leaves flowing across a sea of peaks and valleys is God’s handiwork at its best.
On Saturday, J and I took the girls up to the mountains for the first time not only to see the leaves but also to visit a place that none of us had been to before, Linville Caverns. We literally hopped in the car and started driving right after R’s soccer game. Now because of our little spontaneity, I didn’t have my phone or my camera, so we couldn’t really capture the beauty of the caverns with J’s little smart phone. But sometimes, cameras don’t capture everything, and it’s best to see things from in front of the lens or the phone screen.
The caverns are so cool. Literally cool. The temperature stays around 50 degrees year round. And very damp. If you decide to visit, take a jacket and be prepared to get a little wet from the dripping water and rocks. The tour is around 30 minutes long and the guides are fabulous. They know all about the science and history of the cavern including reasons for growth and formations of stalactites and stalagmites. Some highlights of the tour are the Eastern Pipistrelle bats, a bottomless pool, and experiencing total darkness.
If bats aren’t your thing, visit the caverns during the warmer months. The bats use the caverns during the winter months for hibernation. We didn’t see any bats (thank you Jesus) during our visit minus the plastic one nestled in the rocks hiding from his country of origin, Walmart. Also we learned about a terrible disease that is killing millions of bats worldwide called White-nose Syndrome. Now you may say this is a good thing if you hate bats, but less bats equal more insects. The caverns are doing their part to decrease the spread of the disease which can’t be passed to humans but can be carried on our clothing and shoes. At the caverns, they have lost around 90% of their bat population. Very sad for those who enjoy their winged furry friends.
Also, if darkness isn’t your thing or a thing for your little ones, be aware that you will experience total darkness on a small part of the tour. I’m sure they can accommodate if there is a concern, but it is a really amazing experience that can’t be explained. You will be sorry if you miss it! My kids held on to me a little tighter, but loved it!
Overall, we had an awesome time. There are also waterfalls in the area including Linville Falls, which is about 5 miles up the mountain from the caverns. There are many other attractions in the area as well.
A few words to the wise about trips to Linville Caverns/Falls:
1- Gas- Make sure you aren’t on empty before you get there. We didn’t realize how far we would have to drive from Marion (a nearby city), and gas at the nearest station was about 30 cents more expensive than gas in the city. Fill up before you get there. Also the nearest gas stations are about 5 miles in either direction of the caverns
2- Wear comfortable clothing- You don’t want to tromp through a cave in stilettos and leather pants (not sure I have readers who wear either of these things). Wear tennis shoes and sweats if possible… Totally great time to break out the yoga pants.
3- Eat at Abele’s in Morganton– They have everything! EVERYTHING! And the kids menu is very reasonable. They have a huge veggie, salad, fruit, and soup bar. Kids 4 and under eat off of the bar for FREE. Can’t go wrong with free. It’s a short drive up Interstate 40.
4- Handsy Kids- If you have kids who want to put their hands on everything, you may want to wait until they grow out of this phase or be prepared to carry them. There is only one portion of the tour that allows for touching. The salt and oil in your fingertips harm the growth of the cavern, and it is a big “no-no” to run your hand over the rocks. Also rowdy children should probably be kept in check. I say this because there was a group of tourists with more than plenty enough kids who were running through the lines, swinging from rails, climbing on rocks (including the bridge that was over a fairly steep drop to the river), and destroying trees. If you can’t keep it together or know your kids are a little, ummm let’s see… free-spirited…, you may want to stick to a different attraction. The tour guides are thanking me. As are the older people who don’t want to have a heart attack from seeing your child’s near death experience from his new rock climbing hobby.
If you’re cool with all of the above, you will absolutely love the caverns. My girls haven’t stopped talking about their trip. We will definitely be visiting again and will add the falls to our trip. NC folks, if you haven’t made it up to the mountains yet, last week’s storms blew some leaves off of the trees, but there are still plenty to see. With this week’s cooler weather, I’m sure this coming weekend will be a fine time to visit. Man I should be a meteorologist haha. Move over Van Denton!
And because I can’t let you go without some Pinterest, here are some links to pins and sites that you could use to supplement your visit to the caverns:
Pin: Handprint bats
Website: Projects for Preschoolers
Pin: Fingerprint bats
Website: Crafty Morning
Pin: Flying bats
Website: Moms Have Questions Too
Growing Stalactites and Stalagmites:
Pin: Experiment One
Website: Stories and Children
Pin: Experiment Two
Website: Everyday Art
I’m most definitely going to do a few of these with the girls to further their learning of all things Linville Caverns related.
If you still haven’t had a chance to enter the Spooky Halloween Letters Giveaway, you can do so by clicking the image below: