Sweetwater, Tennessee: The Lost SeaIt's been lost in a cave. See the sea by boat. It's really a lake, not a sea, but it has hungry fish and helpful tour guides..
Visitor Tips and News About The Lost Sea
My husband and I were driving cross-country and saw the billboard. We looked it up on Roadside America and thought the reviews made it sound fun. It is! We took our four month old daughter and had a blast.
Yes, it was difficult at times to go up or down through the cave, but well worth the effort my husband put in. He carried her in a front carrier the entire time. The boat ride was short, but loads of fun because of the entertaining fish and the tall tales from the guide. The wait outside to get in was okay; would have liked it a bit faster because it was so hot, but then we would have run over the tour group in front of us, so it was good timing.[Brickner3, 07/22/2010]
The water has risen in the cave and the glass bottom boats are running again -- water is clearer and you can see the fish. Nice cool place to go in the summertime.[Richard, 12/19/2009]
An interesting place to visit, though I agree with the comment that the official website hypes it way too much. The water was indeed murky and I felt sorry for the trout. Still, the geology and human lore of the place is worth knowing.
Because it has had fairly constant use over many centuries, many of the formations one expects to see have been damaged. The company offers a Wild Tour that apparently takes you to less visited spots in the cavern.
Next to the cave tour is a small "village" with a gift shop, glassblower, smithy demo, and "gem mining" (buy a bag of dirt and run it through the sluice.).
The village closes 2 hours earlier than the cave tour, so visit it first.
It's also in the Eastern Time Zone, so we were expecting another hour to visit since we came from the Nashville area to see it. Adjust your watches early so you won't be surprised.[Karen R.from Utah, 07/31/2008]
The glass bottom boat ride onto the lake is still not available due to the drought. The lake is down 29 feet and the floating dock has pulled away from even the temporary walkway that was built a year or so ago.
However, they have opened up another section of the cave to tours in compensation. Since the area is not lit like the other area that are part of the normal commercial tour, they hand out lanterns before heading into that section.
All in all, still worth a visit.[Heather Casey, 01/11/2008]
May 2008: Danny writes "The glass bottom boat ride on the lake is once again open. From what I could tell the tour is back to its original content."
A year-long drought in eastern Tennessee has reduced the water in The Lost Sea -- a cave lake turned into a tourist attraction -- to its lowest level since it opened to visitors in 1963. The lake has been around a lot longer than that, of course, but the Indians didn't have to worry about lengthening the dock (so that the tour boats don't get beached) or lowering the underwater light bulbs (so that they remain underwater).
The attraction notes with delight that attendance is actually up this year, often from people curious to see what the mini-Sea looks like, and that the 20-foot drop in the water level has made parts of the cave visible for the first time ever. The 300 rainbow trout that live in The Lost Sea can't be very happy, although visitors now have a much better chance of spotting them.
Lemons into lemonade, in aptly named Sweetwater, Tennessee.[RoadsideAmerica.com Team, 10/02/2007]