Ok - this is the drive I take to unwind and revel in the beauty of the awesome Sequatchie Valley. About 15 minutes north of Chattanooga - off Hwy 27 North, then on hwy 111 to Dunlap - you will find Nirvana. This is the hanggliding capital of the southeast, and rightly so. The view - even from the highway - is astounding. There's not much to do in town, but if you love hiking, scenery or the majesty of nature - go see it when you need a lift.
Canoeing. If you are new to it then this is the place to try it. Canoe the Sequatchie rents canoes so you can paddle through some of the prettiest riverside country in Tennessee. It advertises "Gentle Thrills" - and is a wonderful way to see what Southeast TN is really like.
The lost sea is an incredible underground lake (America's largest) inside a cave outside of Sweetwater, TN. The tour takes place on a Glass Bottom Boat. It's pretty cool - but I'm a cave geek so I really like that sort of thing. The lake, covering 4 1/2 acres, is recognized by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a Registered National Landmark.
I think it was also in the Guiness Book as the world's largest underground lake. I borrowed this picture from the website...
Wonder Cave, just outside of Pelham, Tennessee in Grundy County - was discovered in 1897 by three Vanderbilt students. It's one of my favorite attractions around this area. You can still see abandoned moonshine stills inside the cave. It's located off of I-24 before Monteagle Mountain, the Pelham exit (about an hour west of Chattanooga towards Nashville).
Yes, one of this area's claim to historical fame is located a short way from Chattanooga in Dayton, Tennessee. Here you can visit the Rhea County Courthouse, where the trial actually took place. The courthouse has a small museum in the basement displaying memorabilia. The Courthouse and Museum are open for visitors Monday-Friday from 8AM to 4:30 PM, except holidays.
A lot of folks in the area still don't believe in evolution. Things evolve a little more slowly here in the buckle of the Bible Belt.
The Lookout Mountain Flight Park will teach you to Hangglide (you can ride tandem) if you dare. It is located in Rising Fawn, GA close to Chattanooga. There's no way on God's Green Earth that I would ever do it, but my friends have and they seemed to enjoy it. I would have to wear a Depend because heights are definitely not for me. But maybe someday I will try it.
an interesting side trip from chattanooga is russell cave national monument. russell cave is located in northeast alabama about 35 miles southwest of chattanooga. russell cave was home to native americans from 6500 BC to 1650 AD. the cave was inhabited by the paleo, archaic, woodland, and mississipian native american cultures. along with the cave there is a hiking trail and a very nice picnic area. for those interested in native american history and culture russell cave is a very worth while side trip from chattanooga.
from chattanooga take I-24 west past the I-59 cut off then south on US 72. near bridgeport alabama take CR 98 to the park. the address is 3729 CR 98 bridgeport alabama.
dayton is the county seat of rhea county tennessee. dayton is located on US 27 35 miles north of chattanooga. of interest to the tourist is the rhea county courthouse which was the site of the 1925 scopes "monkey" trail. the trial was a publicity stunt to gain attention for the town. john scopes was hired to teach a chapter of a text supporting charles darwin's theory of evoluntion which was against the law in tennessee at the time. the famous orator william jennings bryan was hired as the prosecuter and the famous trial lawyer clarence darrow was hired as scopes defence council. the trial became an international media circus. over 200 newspaper reporters decended on dayton and trained chimpanzees performed on the courthouse grounds. the scopes "monkey" trial was the first trial in the united states to receive national radio coverage. in the basement of the courthouse is an interesting museum on the trial.
the courthouse is located at 1475 market street in downtown dayton.
In the Cherokee Indian language "Chattanooga" means "rock coming to a point." And from just about any vantage point in the city it's obvious where the name came from. Lookout Mountain is not actually a pointy type mountain, but a long flat-topped rocky ridge, running many miles through northeast Alabama, across the northwestern corner of Georgia, and then coming to an abrupt stop (point) at the Tennessee River, above Chattanooga.
Many people consider Chattanooga and Lookout Mountain one and the same place, but actually they are different cities, so I have built a seperate Lookout Mountain page, which I will not duplicate in my Chattanooga tips. There is MUCH to see and to on Lookout Mountain, including famous tourist destinations such as: Rock City, Ruby Falls, the Incline Railway and a portion of the Chattanooga and Chickamauga National Military Park. If you visit Chattanooga, by all means don't miss Lookout Mountain.
About and hour and a half west of Chattanooga is Lynchburg, TN, home of the Jack Daniels distillery. Tours go from 9-4:30 and run a little over an hour. You'll get to see the process from start to finish, and although there are no free samples, you'll get to take in plenty of intoxicating aromas. The finale in the bottling plant and where the barrels are stored is the highlight of this free and fun food tour.
The original discovery of the falls was in the early 1900´s, a young man was caving, and did the completely brave/foolish thing by crawling into a narrow tunnel in a cave and kept going and going for 17 hours, deeper and deeper until he found the great opening in the caverns inside the moutains and found the falls, which he named after his wife, Ruby.
For thousands of years, part of the cave system had been used by Native Americans, as well as later, as a hideout for outlaws, but Leo Lambert was the man who had a dream to open it up to the world. Amazing rock formations, fossils from millions of years ago, a water system, and still living and growing rock, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapes, and flowstones plus the end line of the falls is a great adventure for everyone. And on a hot summer day, this is one of the coolest places you can go. Its always about 60°F inside.
BEWARE of the low ceiling however! One has to watch their head and feet at all times. Because of the humidity, the rock floors can be slippery (our tour guide hd just broken a thumb a week ago falling, while giving a tour!). If you are claustrophobic, you might want to pass on this tour. Its very close and narrow many ways, very cramped. I am very tall and my neck and back was tired from crouching for so long, but the getting to see the magnificent falls was worth the trip!
You can buy your tickets online before going, or once you get there. Also can purchase tickets in combination with other nearby tours for a discount price. Great if you are visiting for a few days, the Incline, Rock City, etc. Its $12,95 for one adult to see Ruby Falls, for Ruby Falls and Rock City, its $24. If you include the Incline ride, get all three for $33. Children 3-12 years are about half of each price. We chose to do Rock City and Ruby Falls at one time. See my tip for Rock City separately for more about it. The tickets don´t have to be used all in one day, you can come back with 2 or 3 days.
see more fotos of specific formations in the t´logues
One can see these signs over much of America, and again like Ruby Falls, though I had lived in the area before I had never visited. Again like Ruby Falls, on a hot summer day, this is a cool, cool place to visit. High atop Lookout Mtn, having driven the twisting and curving roads, following sign after sign, we finally arived! Typical theme park set up in the front, a little restaurant, souvenir shops, guides ready to help you if you´d like (they are optional) or you can take a map of the grounds and wander around yourself. The maps and history was printed in 9 different languages, very helpful as they get visitors from around the world.
Rock City is not only known for its sites, being able to look off the top and see seven states, but also for its gardens, its unique rock formations and nature. We had a wonderful time wandering around, touching the cool stones, listening to the echoes of the birds, other tourists (which was few, and quite nice). Some of the highlights, are Deer Park, a special park were rare albino deer are kept; the swing along bridge you will see on one of the fotos, I had especial fun at that. My mother doesn´t like the heights, so of course I had to jump up and down on it and scare her LOL Also there is Lover´s Leap, the bluff from where two young people from warring Native American tribes leapt to their deaths, because they could not be together. The "Fat Man´s squeeze, is a REALLY tight pass one could very well get stuck in. Along the way, stop and have a bit to eat or something cool to drink, there are stands and a gazebo at a special section near Flag Court.
Besides my fotos, one can visit the website and take a virtual tour, or visit on your own sometimes. We had bough our tickets in a package discount, seeing Ruby Falls and Rock City for 24.95. Its $12,95 at the door to enter. You can buy online and print your tickets yourself also.
Don't Neglect the 'Other' Parks! Make sure to visit the state park in nearby Ringgold, GA. It has Native American log structures, nice walking trails, and a spring. And while Lookout Mountain probably gets the most publicity as 'the Mountain' of the city, don't neglect Signal Mountain on the northwest side. It has great winding, hilly roads, and some nice residential areas, not to mention a great park with a dramatic waterfall and gorgeous view of the Tennessee River! The panoramic photo above was taken at nearby Cloudland Canyon, just a short drive into Georgia from Chattanooga.
Take a Drive. You'll be amazed at the scenery you can find just driving in and around Chattanooga. There is an especially nice strip of road that runs between the Hamilton Place mall and Collegedale. A thorough exploration of Ooltewah-Ringgold Rd. and Standifer Gap Rd. makes a great Sunday afternoon drive. One of the most desirable locations I've ever seen for having a home was in a hilltop community just outside of Collegedale on University Dr./Camp Rd. called 'Deer Ridge'. Last time I was there, they were just finishing the first 3 or 4 houses in the gorgeous community, but by now, I imagine dozens of people call this breathtaking location their home. For another great drive, take the length of Ooltewah-Georgetown Rd. with a short detour down Harrison Pike. You'll never see more beautiful country!
Off the beaten path, you ask? How about Chickamauga National Battlefield? One of the bloodier battles of the War of Northern Aggression was fought here. Some people call the war the 'American Civil War,' but 'War of Northern Aggression' just sounds better, really. Anyway, the battlefield is beautifully serene, and good exhibits show the march of the armies and the cannonfire.