Where: Linville, N.C., in Avery County.
How to access: Linville Caverns is one of the most accessible caving experiences in Appalachia, with portions open to wheelchairs. The caverns are open to the public daily March through November, with varying hours. All tours are guided and last between 30 and 45 minutes. Prices vary, and children under the age of five can enter for free with adult supervision.
Difficulty: These caverns are considered commercial, as opposed to wild. While Linville Caverns does not allow spelunking, this caving spot is great for families and children.
Fun fact: In an area of the cave too dangerous for human traffic resides a rock that bears the signature of explorer William Hidden. He was sent to the area in the late 1800s by Thomas Edison in search of minerals needed to create the light bulb.
Contact information: Call (800) 419-0540 or visit linvillecaverns.com
Commercial caving is sparse in North Carolina, and the few wild caves are closed to the public. The longest known limestone cave in the state is only one mile long, according to Steve Bailey, the chairman of the Western North Carolina caving group Flittermouse Grotto. Named after an old-time word for bats, the Flittermouse Grotto promotes safe caving practices by leading group caving trips, surveying caves and hosting seminars that train would-be cavers about topics such as vertical techniques and ropework.
The grotto meets on the third Friday of each month in Asheville, N.C., and welcomes interested adventurers. Find more information on their Facebook page or at flittermouse.org.