ruby falls is a historic natural attraction located about half way up lookout mountain on scenic drive. in 1928 leo lambert drilled a shaft into ruby falls cave and discovered the falls. ruby falls is the highest underground water fall in the united states. in 1930 lambert opened the falls to the public and named it after his wife ruby. since it's opening ruby falls has been visited by millions of tourists. for those interested in geology and natural beauty ruby falls is worth a stop when in the chattanooga area. see the attached web site for admission and times.
My memories of Ruby Falls date back to when I was younger than 10, so there isn't a huge amount that I can tell you about this waterfall that is up to date. I will provide links at the end of the tip to a few others who have much more current information. However, even with all the resources on VirtualTourist, I was unable to find tips about Ruby Falls that I would classify as extremely helpful.
When one of the railroad lines leading through Chattanooga was rebuilt, a tunnel was constructed across the mouth of a large, somewhat famous cave, and thus sealing it off from the outside world.
Some decades later, a tourist corporate group thought it would be an interesting idea to dig down to the cave and build an elevator to it, so that they could sell tours to it and still provide access to it. The best way to get to it, as they determined, was to buy a bit of land on top of the hill and drill an elevator shaft through the rock down to the cave.
About halfway down, the drilling stopped, because they had found a cave that wasn't where it was supposed to be.
Naturally, they made a decision to explore this newly discovered cave, which had (and still has) no outlet to the outside world other than the small cracks here and there that let air and water in from a vast distance away. So, while it isn't completely sealed off from the outside world, it might as well be for all practical purposes.
At the end of the cave, the explorers found a waterfall in a large chamber.
While the elevator shaft was continued down to the cave that was the original destination for it, it was decided that the new cave and its waterfall would make a much more interesting tourist attraction than anything in the cave that was the original goal of the exploration. So, while that cave is accessible now, nobody ever actually goes there (at least, they didn't in the 1970s, when I visited Ruby Falls). It remains (or rather, remained) undeveloped for tourists.
This new waterfall was named "Ruby Falls" and a trail was graded from the new elevator shaft to the base of Ruby Falls. A new Chattanooga tourist attraction was born!
For those who have never visited an underground tourist attraction before, you need to be prepared for a few things:
+ Caves can be dark, and the cave in which Ruby Falls lives is no exception. While it is true that there are electric lights and all that, you may find it useful to have a flashlight with you in the event the power fails. Also, if you have young children please be advised that the standard program for the falls does involve turning off all the lights in the cave for a brief period so that people can experience "total darkness" as only a cave can provide them with. So, if you have a little one that is afraid of the dark, Ruby Falls may not be a good place to take them just yet.
+ Caves can be fairly cold. Expect temperatures in the 50 degree F range (in the 10 degree C range). There may very well be HVAC in the cave by now, but I rather doubt it.
+ Caves can be tight. The trail between the elevator and Ruby Falls itself is reasonably well graded for a cave trail, but there are places (or, at least, there used to be places) that require that people duck under rock formations, or otherwise navigate tight places. Even though the cave trail is reasonably well graded, it is still a bit rough in places. Imagine a paved trail built through a rocky forest floor, and you sort of have a picture of what this is like. It is a lot better than a dirt trail, but not anywhere as smooth as a sidewalk either.
This is not a good question and answer type of trip. Ruby Falls is a huge tourist attraction, and even in the 1970s the program had to be timed down to the minute in order to get all the groups through. Information conveyed during the walk through the cave consists of some information provided by the guides, but much of it is (or at least in the 1970s was) recorded announcements.
Here is what a few other VirtualTourist members have written about Ruby Falls:
TravelSteph's Ruby Falls tip gives a bit of information on how to get there and somewhat more up to date (written in 2004!) entrance fees than what I know. However, I would at least check the Ruby Falls web site, below, to make sure you know what you are getting into.
seagoingJLW's Ruby Falls tip is the highest rated tip about Ruby Falls, but it contains no useful information and is much older (2002!) than the Ruby Falls tip written by TravelSteph's tip.
Ruby FAlls is a site about 1/2 way up the mountain. In the old days, there was and entrance near the bottom of the mountain, but a railroad needed access, so it closed up the entrance to that. There is said to be 12 miles of caves inside, however, only about 1 mile is part of the tour. Tour is around 3/4 hour. You take an elevator down 260 feet, and from there enter the open area of the cave, then the fall of Niagara and Ruby. The Lambert family started this cave 75 years ago for tours. It is now a illuminated show of colored lights, from what was a pristine cave and falls that flow 300 gallons a minute, and fall 145 feet. The at the entrance is a pattern form an Irish castle, and you can climb to the top to see the valley and city. Other attractions are a fun forest for kids, and the parents can pan for gold. It all seems rather "trashy" in my opinion, but welcome to USA. The signage to direct you to this attraction goes for many miles in all directions.
Price is $15.95 for the cave, and $30.00 if combined with Rock City tour.
No doubt about it - Ruby Falls is a very touristy attraction, one for which you see billboards and bumper stickers all over the southern United States. Having said that, however, I confess that it is one I have enjoyed seeing twice and have recommended to others.
The main attraction is a 145 foot underground waterfall located over 1120 feet beneath the mountain’s surface. Visitors are herded down to a massive cavern in the dark. Then, in a moment of drama, the lights are turned on to reveal this chute of water cascading down from above them. The truly magnificent moment is when the lights are red (or ruby) colored. Fun stuff, indeed, and our young daughters were awed by it at the time, even if they don't remember it twenty years later.
This is your run of the mill cave tour, culminating in a huge underground waterfall. You start with a short video which gives the history of the cave, and follow with a hike down past cave formations towards the waterfall. I found the guide to be knowledgable and humorous. He also was willing to take pictures of anyone who wanted one. The cost is pretty comparable to many of the cave tours we've been on across the country, and the waterfall is a unique feature. Definitely worth this cool time (about 1.5 hours) underground, especially on a hot day.
Note: strollers not allowed. Tours run 8:00-8:00. Avoid the crowds by going earlier in the day.
Travel down a short elevator ride into an underground cave,past caverns and rock formations - at the end of the tour you will see a 145 foot waterfall. It is the highest underground waterfall around. They have different colored lights flashing towards the water when you get there, so it looks pretty cool.
The passage walkways are narrow, so no strollers. I found it a little chilly in there, so I would suggest wearing a long sleeve shirt or a light jacket. Ruby Falls are located on the historic Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tennessee. You have a great view of the city from up here too.
Ruby Falls is another must see in Chattanooga. It is a 145 foot waterfall at the end of a descent into a cavern. Admission is $12.95 for ages 13 and up and $5.95 for ages 3 to 12. Allow around 1.5 hours to visit the caverns and falls.
If you like caves this one has a rather lengthy walk before reaching the cavern with the lighted underground waterfall with various natural formations along the way such as 'Steak and Eggs' , 'Bacon' and 'The Leaning Tower'.
Hours: 8am-8pm year round.
I visited here whilst on my way back to Nahville from Atlanta.
We decended by elevator into the mountain where our group met up with a guide who took us along the cave path. On the way we saw active formations which have been given names such as Cactus and Candle, Frozen Niagara etc. At the end of the cave we saw 'Ruby Falls' - a 145 foot underground waterful.
There are other activities in this area, which we didn't have time for - IN Aquarium, Rock City, Incline Railway etc.
A unique cavern exploration within the bowels of Lookout Mountain. See stalactites and stalagmites, and various interesting rock formations while touring the spacious water-formed caverns of the mountain. The tour is topped off by visiting an immense underground waterfall. Absolutely breathtaking when showered in multicolored spotlights! A can't miss!
This is a large waterfall from an underground spring that is located deep within a cave! You start at the entrance and ride an elevator down to inside the cave, then hike for about a quarter of a mile through the cave to the falls. You approach it in the dark. You hear the loud sound of the waterfall and can feel the spray on your face, and then they turn on the lights. WOW! You have to walk all of the way back to the elevator along the same path that you followed previously. There are 2 exits. One by riding the elevator back up to the gift shop. The other is when the elevator breaks down like it did on us. Then you get to walk out the other end of the cave along a section that is rarely traveled to an old entrance that existed before the elevator was put in. It comes out on the other side of the mountain and school busses are sent around to pick everyone up. What an adventure!! We got to see more of the cave than the other tourists!!
Its on your way up Lookout Mountain. Stop by for a look at the waterfall and have a nice scenic lunch.