River and Earth Adventures


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In a Nutshell

  • Appalachian wilderness tours
  • 550-million-year-old cave
  • Cave tours led by geologist

The Fine Print

Promotional value expires Sep 30, 2011. Amount paid never expires. Limit 1 per person, may buy multiple as gifts. Limit 1 per visit. Must be 7 or older. Merchant is solely responsible to purchasers for the care and quality of the advertised goods and services.

Humans explore caves for the same reasons they enjoy listening to indie music—it's dark, it's underground, and it offers a meaningful escape from melodramatic breakups. Delve into a new world with today's Groupon: for $35, you get a caving adventure from River and Earth Adventures in Elizabethton (up to a $75 value, depending on the size of the group).

River and Earth Adventures carves deep into the Appalachian Mountains to expose the cave-curious to slices of pristine wilderness navigated by expert guides. The two- to four-hour caving adventures, which begin with a 10 a.m. meet-up at the Elizabethton Outpost, explore Worley's Cave, a noncommercial (meaning no electricity or sidewalks), 550-million-year-old underground limestone hollow featuring seven miles of large rooms and narrow passages. These rooms, with names such as Hobbit's Hallway and Tombstone, are often large enough to hold 1 house or 125 dog houses, with up to 80-foot ceilings and quarter-mile-long bases. Formations called spelogions spike through, and at a growth rate of one cubic inch every 100 years, their 60-foot heights, 200-foot spans, and 10th-grade reading levels are impressive to behold.

Tours are given year-round, seven days a week, often with the help of Laura Mallard Seldomridge, one of River and Earth's owners and a teacher of geology at Appalachian State University. The caving adventures do require some physicality—River and Earth likens parts of the exploration to climbing onto a kitchen counter to shout at your microwave, and cavers should expect to walk through mud, gravel and shallow water. All tours include equipment (gloves, helmets, and high-powered headlamps), guides, transportation between the Elizabethton Outpost and cave, and, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, a deli-style complimentary lunch that is as local and organic as possible.

River and Earth Adventures

River and Earth Adventures stands out from other wilderness outfitters by being completely operated by their own guides. Their fleet of seasoned cave, mountain, and water-navigating guides work in tandem with professional ecologists and geologists, focusing Blue Ridge Mountains excursions on environmental education as well as adventure. During all day trips, guides divulge area history and expound on forest and river ecosystems as well as geology in caves whose interiors rest at 60 degrees year-round to keep them free of snowman hermits.

Each trip also immerses adventurers in athletic activity, whether on hikes to summits and secluded waterfalls, spelunking through electricity-free cave tunnels, or rafting and kayaking down the Watauga River rapids. For those in search of extended excursions, guides lead children's adventure day camps and combination trips that further an environmental focus and bottle-cap collections through river cleanup projects.

Customer Reviews

It's so fun! I was nervous before I got there, but once I was inside the cave, it was the most amazing adventure. This is a great deal.
Emily R. · August 3, 2014
Great experience. Brody was awesome
Christina D. · July 12, 2014
Great guide! Such a fun time. Recommended for family young and old. Nothing to strenuous but lots of fun even for teens in the group.
Jillian S. · December 15, 2013
Merchant Location Map
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    1617 Broad St.

    Elizabethton, Tennessee 37643


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