The 100 plus foot falls known as Lover's Leap are one of the most striking natural attractions you'll find in Rock City. There are platforms in front and in back of the falls to allow you to get different views. The backside of the falls also forms a natural cave, offering shade and welcome relief from summer humidity.
rock city is located just south of lookout mountain tennessee in lookout mountain georgia. in the early 1800's visitors to lookout mountain reached the site by mule back. the modern rock city attraction was opened by garnet carter in 1932. between 1936 and the mid 1950's carter painted "see rock city" signs on over 900 barns in the southeast and midwest. today most of these barns no longer exist and have been replaced by "see rock city" bird houses. carter built the world's first miniture golf course at rock city. on a clear day you can see seven states from the lover's leap overlook at rock city. this historic park is a great place to visit when traveling with children.
the battle of chattanooga museum is located across the street from point park. this interesting museum uses miniture solders on a topographical map to explain the battle of lookout mountain. the museum has a large gift shop that sells civil war related souvenirs.
point park and the chickamauga-chattanooga national military park is located on lookout mountain and near by missionary ridge. lookout mountain was the site of the "battle above the clouds" during the second battle of chattanooga in 1863. point park and the cravens house are two battle sites on lookout mountain. for those interested in spectacular views and civil war history point park should not be missed. for a more complete description of the second battle of chattanooga see my chickamauga-chattanooga national military park pages.
ruby falls is a historic natural attraction located about half way up lookout mountain on scenic hwy (TN 148). 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 the falls after his wife ruby. since the 1930's ruby falls has been visited by millions of tourists. for those interested in geology and natural beauty ruby falls is worth a visit when in the chattanooga area.
the historic incline railway connects chattanooga with the top of lookout mountain. the railway was built in 1895 by john cross. the lookout mountain incline railway is the steepest in the world. the incline begins at st. elmo ave. in chattanooga and ends on east brow road near point park. half way up lookout mountain the incline railway makes a stop at ruby falls.
This battlefield was the site of the infamous "Battle of the Clouds". The battle was part of the larger scale battle for Chattanooga eventually won by the Union, but not before a Confederate victory at Chickamauga and an estimated 34,000 deaths. The Union forces captured the Confederate brigade on Lookout Mountain in November, 1863. Today, a memorial stands atop Lookout Mountain, in addition to a series of markers depicting the battle.
Balanced Rock is a 1,000 ton rock balanced atop a smaller rock. I'm assuming they are guessing at the weight and are a bit off, but, either way, its an interesting sight, and one you'll see on your journey along the paths and through the passageways of rock city.
Fat Man's Squeeze is a narrow passageway between the rocks, which is a pretty tight fit for anyone, whether obese or not. The squeeze is part of the path leading through rock city. I didn't see any way around it, so visitors pretty much have to squeeze through. While it is narrow and tight, I didn't see anyone having a problem with it.
The first portion of Rock City is known as the Grand Corridor. Here, a path leads you through a garden of sorts where you'll find hundreds of different plants and, of course, the rocks. The path leads past an area known as Deer Park, which is actually a large moat with white tail deer inside. The deer didn't look to happy about their surroundings, and I wasn't too keen on this, so I pretty much skipped it. The path leads to a narrow passageway called the Needle's Eye before heading to the overlook near Lover's Leap.
The fairyland caverns would be a tacky attempt to capture the attention of children but for the fact that it is so well done. The underground cave has a series of displays of fairy tale characters and lights but the main attraction is a large model of a fairy castle complete with hundreds of figures that most recognize from well known fairy tales. Its a very pretty sight, and, much like Walt Disney World, seems to amuse both children and adults.
The famous "See Rock City" signs still line the highways but are nothing like the former advertisements for this attraction. The park used to paint barns for free in exchange for the right to place huge signs on the sides, imploring travelers to, well, "See Rock City." Some sort of law was passed making it illegal for such large signs to be placed alongside the highway. Nowadays, the signs are much smaller, requiring that drivers strain to see them, which would seem to create a more dangerous condition than painted barns, but that is another matter.
Rock City doesn't sound very appealing, but the pretty park is much more than a collection of rocks. There are gardens and caves, suspension bridges and a pretty impressive waterfall known as Lover's Leap. A paved path leads through the rock formations and gardens and to the overlooks where you can see into 7 states on a clear day. Saving the best for last, the fairy caverns is a disney-esque walk through of lights and fairytale characters that is so well done that adults seem to like it too. There's also a children's village and some souvenier and concession stands.
Admission to Rock City is about $15, but there are packages that allow you to see several of the area attractions and spend even more money.
Ruby Falls are another highly commercial attraction centered around a unique and beautiful natural occurence. In the 1920's, an underground waterfall was discovered in Lookout Mountain Cave and has been turned into a popular tourist attraction. In order to visit the falls, you must pay the admission fee and take the cave tour. Due to damage to the cave, no one is allowed in unless on a guided tour.
Lookout Mountain Cave has an interesting history. The cave had a natural entrance at the bank of the Tennessee river and was used by Native Americans, outlaws and as a civil was hospital. In the early 1900's, the natural entrance of the cave was closed off during construction of a railroad. In the 1920's Leo Lambert, a cave explorer and entrepreneur, decided to open the cave to the public. While drilling an elevator shaft, Lambert discovered an opening. Being a spelunker, he decided to go in and explore.
Nearly 17 hours later, Lambert emerged with tales of elaborate rock formations and an underground waterfall whose source, to this day, is unknown. He named the waterfall after his wife, Ruby. The photo shows the original narrow passageway that Lambert crawled through for 17 hours during his exploration.
Tours of Lookout Mountain Cave are offered as part of a visit to Ruby Falls. There is no way to get to the falls without taking the tour. Although time consuming, it is an interesting walk past some spectacular rock formations, many of which bear resemblance to common and ordinary objects.
The falls are about a half mile from the elevator, but the entire tour takes over an hour. Because the cave is so narrow and so popular, tour groups stop frequently to allow exiting groups to pass by. Its a bit of a frustrating experience, and the most disappointing part is that you only get a couple of minutes to view the waterfall. But enduring the tour and its many stops is the only way to see the falls. For those who always wanted to visit an underground cave, this is a good bet.
The entrance to Ruby Falls Caverns is in a very scenic setting, half way up the side of Lookout Mountain, overlooking the city of Chattanooga. The cave itself is interesting but not overly impressive. However, when you reach Ruby Falls I guarantee that you will gasp in amazement. Making a sheer drop of 145 feet from the cave ceiling and plunging into a dark pool, Ruby Falls the the highest known underground waterfall in the world. Our photo doesn't begin to do it justice.
Ruby Falls was discovered more than 70 years ago when a 420-foot deep elevator shaft was being dug to the original Lookout Mountain Cave. A small opening was found at the 260-foot level and explorers spent 17 hours crawling on their hands and knees through the tight passages. As they pushed deeper into the cave, they began to hear the sound of water flowing in the distance. They were awestruck by the magnificent beauty of the waterfall they had discovered. Leo Lambert, owner of the falls, named it for his wife, Ruby.
Tours begin every few minutes and take about an hour to complete. This is a very popular attraction and often crowded, especially on holidays and weekends.
8 A.M. - 8 P.M.
Closed Christmas Day