Sometimes we all just need to get away for a day, don't we? Escape the hustle and bustle, the same old routine, and embark on a mini-adventure to recharge those batteries. It sounds fantastic, right? But where to go, you ask? How about on a unique lost sea adventure...
Just a short drive away (depending on where you are located in GA), over the border, our charming neighbor, Tennessee, has a literal hidden gem underground.
Nestled in Sweetwater is a natural wonder that's as exciting as it is unique - the Lost Sea. This isn't just any body of water; it's America's largest underground lake. Yes, you read that right - underground!
Now, imagine trading the Georgia heat for the cool, otherworldly calm of a vast subterranean lake, surrounded by magnificent caverns steeped in centuries of history. An experience as refreshing as it is enlightening, perfect for that much-needed overnight getaway.
A Quick Look At The History Of The Lost Sea
Have you ever wondered about the stories that an underground lake could tell if it could speak? The Lost Sea, located deep inside a mountain near Sweetwater, Tennessee, has an awe-inspiring history that dates back to the days of the Cherokee Indians.
These ancient peoples, well-known for their rich cultural traditions, utilized this extensive cave system, leaving behind a treasure trove of artifacts. Evidence of pottery, arrowheads, weapons, and jewelry in what is now known as "The Council Room" bears testimony to this.
The cave has also been a silent witness to fascinating wildlife throughout the ages. One such notable inhabitant from about 20,000 years ago was a Pleistocene jaguar. The creature, unfortunately, lost its way in the darkness and met its end in a deep crevice of the cave.
Fast forward to the 1800s when the first settlers discovered the cave, using its cool, constant temperature as a natural refrigeration system. During the Civil War, the cave served a significant role in gunpowder manufacturing as Confederate soldiers mined it for saltpeter.
Intriguing tales of espionage and near-destruction of this operation by a Union spy add a touch of thrill to the cavern's history.
However, the greatest discovery was yet to come - in 1905, a 13-year-old boy named Ben Sands discovered the now-famous underground lake, realizing the long-standing rumors of its existence. Today, despite modern exploration equipment, the full extent of the Lost Sea remains an enticing mystery, with more than 13 acres of water having been mapped so far, and still no end in sight.
Plan Your Visit to The Lost Sea
Ready to plunge into this adventure? The Lost Sea welcomes explorers all year round, with varying operating hours.
From January to February and again in November and December, you can visit between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm.
March, April, September, and October see the closing time extend to 6:00 pm.
The summer months of May, June, and August are perfect for longer explorations, with the closing time at 7:00 pm. And in the peak of summer, July, you have until 8:00 pm to enjoy the mysteries of the underground lake.
Just remember, the Lost Sea takes a break on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.
As for tickets, adult entry is priced at $24.95, while kids between 4-12 years can join for $14.95. Little explorers aged 3 and under get to enter for free. The tour, lasting approximately an hour and fifteen minutes, is a refreshing retreat with the temperature inside the cavern consistently at a comfortable 58 degrees.
Tickets do tend to sell out quickly, so I highly recommend buying them online in advance. Tours depart every 30 minutes from opening, so there's plenty of opportunity for you to choose a convenient time slot for your underground adventure.
Beyond the Depths: Additional Attractions at The Lost Sea
Your adventure at the Lost Sea doesn't stop at the underground lake; there's plenty more to explore! After your tour, you can mosey on over to the General Store, stocked with a delightful range of souvenirs to remember your trip by.
Feeling a bit peckish after your cave exploration? The Ice Cream Parlor is the perfect spot to indulge your sweet tooth with a variety of flavors. For the young (or young-at-heart) guests, the Gem Mine offers a fun, hands-on experience of gem hunting. Also, don't miss out on the fascinating Glassblower, where you can witness the mesmerizing craft of glassblowing firsthand.
One of our favorite spots is the Lost Sea Nature Trail, a serene retreat into a cove-hardwood forest, representative of the Southern Appalachian Mountains' flora and fauna.
The trail, a third of a mile long, is self-guided, allowing you to immerse yourself in the peace and tranquility of this richly diverse ecosystem at your own pace. Considered one of the most diverse communities globally, the forest is home to an array of plants and animals, offering ample opportunities for bird-watching and nature photography.
Now that you know about the enchanting world that awaits you at the Lost Sea, I'm curious - what part of the adventure excites you the most? Have you been before, or will you plan an overnight trip?