Snail Shell Cave Preserve

Snail Shell Cave is one of the most biologically significant cave sites in the Southeastern United States. In 1999, the cave was named one of the Top Ten Most Endangered Karst Communities by the Karst Waters Institute following its nomination by The Nature Conservancy of Tennessee. Primary threats to the cave include trespassing and vandalism, logging, and factors related to the encroaching sprawl and development from the nearby city of Murfreesboro.

In 1999 the Southeastern Cave Conservancy Inc. purchased Snail Shell Cave and 88 acres of surrounding karst land and cedar glade near Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Snail Shell is the longest continuous cave in the Tennessee Central Basin region, with more than 9 miles of surveyed passages. It is part of a system of caves comprising more than 13 miles of known passages. The main entrance, which is located on the SCCi property, is a huge sink about 100 feet wide and 200 feet long. The sink is a microhabitat containing and extraordinary number of rare and endangered plant and animal species.

Snail Shell Cave Preserve TennesseeSnail Shell Cave is an important natural resource. It is the intention of SCCi that it be available to responsible and qualified individuals for exploration, recreation, education, and scientific study.

SCCi’s  Snail Shell Cave Preserve is being managed according to a comprehensive management plan developed by the Snail Shell Working Group and approved by the SCCi Board at its meeting in Chattanooga. The Working Group, which had more than 30 participants, was comprised of cavers, conservationists, scientists, and land managers experienced in cave and karst management issues. Key support and assistance were provided by The Nature Conservancy and the State of Tennessee.

Snail Shell Cave Preserve Tennessee

Due to a history of abuse of the cave and preserve, and to preserve good relations with our neighbors, the management plan requires advance notification before visiting the cave.

Snail Shell Cave Preserve Tennessee

Preserve Information:

Acreage: 88.0 acres in Rutherford County, Tennessee
Preserve Management Team: Bob Biddix (
To request a permit, visit
Preserve Maps: Piece of the Cave Poster  | Surface Plot Poster