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Raccoon Mountain Caverns & Campground

About

Up until the late 1920s, local farmers would come by the exposed limestone rocks at the base of the portion of Raccoon Mountain known as Mount Aetna. There they would sit and relax on hot afternoons as they enjoyed the cool air which would blow out of the cracks in the limestone rocks. Finally, in late 1929, they invited Leo Lambert, a famed local caver who discovered Ruby Falls the year before, to explore the area for a cave. After crawling through a small opening in a horizontal crack, Mr. Lambert found a pristine cave that appealed to his love of caves. He decided to open it as a tourist attraction and spent the next several years working on trails around the Crystal Palace Room. He named this beautiful cave “Tennessee Caverns” and opened it to the public on June 28, 1931. The original tour, now known as the Lambert Tour, circled the Crystal Palace Room, which was believed to be the largest room in the cave. Some twenty years after its opening, the Smith Brothers were managing the cave and discovered a small hole just off the Crystal Palace Room. It is said that it was so tight that they had to exhale so they could squeeze through the tiny opening. Less than twenty feet later, they found the passage opening into a larger room and continued their discoveries. Eventually, they were able to enlarge the tour to include these newly discovered areas. Today, this tour is known as The Crystal Palace Tour. To date, we have found and mapped over 5 1/2 miles of passageways, with new discoveries still being made. Over the years, the name of the cave was changed from Tennessee Caverns to Crystal City Caves to Crystal Caverns and eventually to its current name, Raccoon Mountain Caverns, in the late 1970s. Today, we are home to not only a spectacular cave, but a beautiful campground, featuring full-service RV sites, water, and electric sites, primitive tent sites, and cabins. Geology Raccoon Mountain Caverns is located in a band of limestone from the Monteagle Formation, which formed during the Mississippian Period (approximately 320-360 million years ago), on the bottom of an ancient sea. In this sea, fragments and shells of various marine animals sank to the bottom and became compacted over time to form limestone rock. We have fossils of crinoids, coral, bryozoans, and echinoderms throughout our cave. Although fossils in the limestone tell us the age of the rock, they are not much help in determining the age of the cave. Most caves, including ours, are less than ten million years old. By the end of the Permian Period ( 225 million years ago), tremendous mountain-building forces resulting from the collision of the continents forced the seas to retreat and pushed and folded the layers of older rocks high above the level of the sea. This produced the anticlines (rocks folded into an arch) and synclines (rocks folded into a “u” shape) which are now the Appalachian Mountains. Raccoon Mountain Caverns is at the edge of the Sequatchie Valley, which is one of the largest and most spectacular anticlinal valleys in the world. Limestone caves are formed when acids attack and dissolve the calcite contained within the limestone. This acid is carbonic acid (also known as soda water carbonated water) which is formed when carbon dioxide combines with water. Most of the carbon dioxide comes from decaying leaves and vegetation in the soil. Scientists believe that most caves from below the water table by slowly moving water. After a rain, the rainwater mixes with the carbon dioxide in the soil and dissolves the limestone underneath. Two factors control the formation of cave passageways: vertical and horizontal fractures in the limestone, and the water table. A cave is formed by water moving slowly in the small fractures below the water table. The of flow below the fractures changes as some limestone is easier to dissolve than others due to variations in composition. (This is evident at Headache Rock which is viewed along the Crystal Palace Tour.) Some channels grow larger as they take in more water, and, as a result, they grow faster. The cave forming process may take thousands of years and can be stopped by either the lowering of the water table or the formation of air passageways in the cave system due to surface erosion. As outside air enters the cave system, the water quickly becomes supersaturated with calcite, and the dissolving process eventually stops. This change marks the beginning of the depositing of calcite in the form of stalactites, stalagmites, and other known as speleothems.

    Activities

  • Corn Hole
  • Hiking
  • Basketball
  • Shuffleboard

    Features

  • Bathrooms
  • Clubhouse
  • Pet Friendly
  • Restaurants
  • Bath House

Location

319 West Hills Drive

Chattanooga, Tennessee 37419


Things to know

Check-in: 3:00 PM

Check-out: 11:00 AM

Rules

Campground While on grounds, guests must adhere to the following policies at all times: Check-in for tent and RV sites begins at 12 PM EST. No outside firewood is allowed to be burned in the campground. Firewood is available for sale in the camp store at $5/bundle and be delivered to your site. The cutting of any wood on property theft of purchased wood from other sites is strictly prohibited. All campground facilities are to be used at your own risk. Raccoon Mountain is not liable for any injury or damages resulting from uncontrollable circumstances during your stay. The speed limit on all campground roadways is 10 mph. Alcoholic beverages are permitted at your site only. Tennessee law prohibits open alcohol anywhere outside of your rented area, including any public areas such as the pavilion, clubhouse, and gift shops. All fires must be contained inside the provided fire ring. There is to be no burning of trash or other debris. Smoking is not permitted in any campground facilities. Only approved electrical cords may be connected to the provided pedestals. Cords must be continuous, without splicing, from the vehicle to the receptacle. A 'donut' must be used with all sewer connections. Sewers are for the disposal of human waste only. Items such as food, grease, plastic, etc., are not to be disposed of via the sewer. Trash is collected at the designated collection times daily. No fluids are to be discharged onto the grounds, Tennessee state law. This policy is inclusive of all water types, including black and gray waters. Washing of vehicles of any sort is not permitted on the property. This applies to all automobiles and pull-behind vehicles. With the exception of picnic items such as grills, lawn chairs, and coolers, outdoor appliances are not permitted. Outdoor clothes drying items such as clotheslines are not permitted. 24-hour laundry facilities are available to all registered guests. Hammocks are not permitted without prior approval from management. Cabins Guests staying in cabins must adhere to the following policies at all times: Check-in for cabins begins at 3 PM EST. There is a strict No Pet policy for all non-Pet Friendly cabins. Fees apply for animals found in cabins or any evidence of or damage caused by animals in cabins. Pet-Friendly cabins are Cabins 2, 6, & 7. There is a 2 pet maximum with a non-refundable $35 fee pet, due at the time of booking. There is a strict No Smoking policy for all cabins. Fees apply for anyone found smoking in cabins or any evidence of smoking discovered during or after your stay. Linens are provided for each cabin. Additional linens above and beyond those provided need to be furnished by the guest. Cabins without a shower do not include towels. Kitchenware is not provided in cabins. Cabin guests be held financially responsible for any lost, damaged, or stolen cabin items. Pets We love fur babies at Raccoon Mountain, but we have some important guidelines that must be adhered to at all times: Pets must be leashed at all times when outside and must wear a valid rabies ID tag at all times. The Bark Park is the only off-leash site for pets. Pet waste must be promptly removed from sites and grounds. Fees may apply for failure to do so. Pets may not be left unattended outside on sites at any time. If you leave the site, your pet must either leave with you or be secured inside your RV. Please note: We ask that you exercise control over your pet so that we do not receive complaints from other guests. In the event that we do receive a complaint, we ask you to remedy the problem. After a second complaint, we ask you to keep the pet inside your RV camper. A third complaint result in you being asked to leave the park. Naturally, no refund of any camping fees is possible in this situation. This damage to property in addition to excessive noise. Per Hamilton County ordinance, Pit Bull breeds and mixes of these breeds are not permitted in public areas. Due to this regulation, we, unfortunately, are unable to allow these animals on-premises. Pets are not permitted in the camp store, gift shop, or cave. -Service animals are permitted in the camp store and gift shopper ADA guidelines. No animals are permitted in the cave. Pool The pool facilities are for the use of paid, registered guests only. Checked-out customers are no longer permitted to use these or any other campground facilities. Important Pool Regulations: There is no lifeguard on duty. When using the pool, you do so at your own risk. Any person using the pool must have a pool bracelet on and visible at all times. Bracelets are provided upon check-in. Replacement fees apply for lost bracelets. Any persons under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times while using the pool. Use of the pool indicates agreement to abide by all posted pool rules. Failure to do so may result in expulsion from the pool. While each park attempts to accommodate your exact spot request, the on-site manager has the ultimate decision for spot placement.

Cancellation Policy

-Spot2Nite booking fees are non-refundable. There are no cancellations refunds. If you fail to arrive for your tour, we incur all the same expenses and may have turned others away; therefore, guests who fail to show for a tour, fail to arrive at the scheduled time, or back out of a tour not be refunded the tour price. With at least 48 hours' notice, guests be given the opportunity to reschedule their tour.