Ruby Falls picture
Buburuzaproductions/Getty Images

Key Info

1720 Scenic Hwy

Details

Natural Wonders, Tours Type
1 to 2 hours Time to Spend
3.9scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Located along the Tennessee River Gorge just south of downtown Chattanooga, Ruby Falls is one of Lookout Mountain's most popular attractions — and it was discovered completely by accident. In 1905, railroad construction forced the closure of the Lookout Mountain Cave, making it inaccessible to the public. Local cave explorer Leo Lambert sought to reverse this and gathered a team of excavators to help build an elevator from the surface that would lower visitors into the cave. Five years into construction, a team member drilled into an 18-inch opening that led to a new cave, where Ruby Falls now stands.

Located 1,120 feet below the surface of the mountain, Ruby Falls is America's deepest commercial cave and largest underground waterfall. Carrying out Lambert's vision, visitors can take an elevator down to the falls and learn about the various rock formations located along the path to the falls. The attraction also boasts a lookout tower, a playground and a ziplining adventure. There are a variety of holiday events and seasonal tours, including the Lantern Tour, where guests are guided through the mountain caverns only by lantern.

Recent visitors found the falls to be stunning and the formations in the cave cool, with many appreciating the fun atmosphere the guides helped create. However, one notable complaint among travelers was that the tour groups are too big for such a small space; some left feeling a bit claustrophobic. Others advised using the restroom beforehand, as the tour can last more than an hour and there are no facilities within the cave. Despite this, many said the tour was a great experience and recommend it to other travelers.

Ruby Falls is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. year-round. Tickets cost $18.95 for adults and $10.95 for children ages 3 to 12. You can also buy a package ticket that includes access to Ruby Falls, Rock City and the Incline Railway, which costs $48.90 for adults and $25.90 for children ages 3 to 12. Buses don't stop at Ruby Falls, but parking is free to visitors. For more information, visit the Ruby Falls website.

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#1 Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park

Along with natural attractions and a notable role in history of the rail industry, Chattanooga is very well-known for being a Civil War battleground. The Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park is the oldest and largest of America's Civil War parks, encompassing land north and south of the Tennessee-Georgia border. During the Civil War, Chattanooga was considered to be an attractive area for its railroads and location, earning the title of the "Gateway of the Deep South." In 1843, battles broke out in various areas in Chickamauga and Chattanooga, with both the Union and Confederate troops experiencing victories and losses.

The park is headquartered at Chickamauga, Georgia, which is about 9 miles south of downtown Chattanooga. Visitors looking to stay in Tennessee are still within reach of many important war sites, including Orchard's Knob, the Chattanooga National Cemetery, Signal Point, Lookout Mountain and various areas along the Missionary Ridge. Those with a tight itinerary (and who already have plans to visit either Ruby Falls, Rock City or ride the Incline Railway), should visit Point Park, the site of the "Battle Above the Clouds" and the Battles for Chattanooga Museum at Lookout Mountain.

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