Natural wonders always amaze me. With so many things man made these days, it’s refreshing and intriguing to experience something that was found, rather than built, by humans. Just take Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain, for example! My family and I were provided tickets for our visit last weekend, and I am still as amazed by it as on my first visit.
Ruby Falls History
Located 1120 feet beneath the Earth’s surface, Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest waterfall opened to the public. The 145-foot waterfall was first discovered by Leo Lambert, a chemist from Chattanooga, TN. He had purchased land on the mountain and planned to reopen the Lookout Mountain Cave.
As Lambert and his team drilled down through the limestone, they came across a small passageway and decided to investigate. At the end of the passage was a beautiful waterfall. When he returned to the falls a second time, Lambert brought his wife, Ruby, along and decided to name the water fall after her.
Opened as a tourist attraction in 1930, Ruby Falls has been visited by tourists from all over the world. The guided tour is an amazing adventure through the history of the cave as well as seeing the waterfall before turning around the exiting on a path similar to the one taken to get to the water.
Ruby Falls Guided Tour
You start by going down the elevator shaft to the passage you will take to see the falls. You will have your photo taken with your group before moving on to watch a short video on the history of Ruby Falls and the cave.
Along the way, you can see lots of beautiful formations – stalagmites and stalactites are everywhere and they are millions of years old! Some have formed into the shapes of common everyday items, like a potato chip, turtle, and steak and potatoes. There is colored lighting on some of the formations, making nature’s job a bit breathtaking to view.
Just under a half mile into your guided tour, you will be led into a dark room. When the lights come on, you will be in the presence of the beautiful Ruby Falls. A variety of colored lights shine up on the falls to illuminate the natural wonder. It really is amazing to stand there and take photos of water rushing out over 1100 feet down in the Earth!
Ruby Falls Activities
After a few minutes of photo opps, your guide will lead you back to the elevator. This ends the tour, but there is still other things to check out at Ruby Falls. There is a playground for the children, a zipline course for the brave, and gem mining for everyone. My cousin and I grabbed a bag of dirt and did a little mining while my mom and aunt took in the view from the lookout tower.
We stopped at the Cavern Cafe for lunch after our tour. The weather was nice enough for us to enjoy our meal by the gem mining area. On our way to the car, we made a pit stop in the gift shop to buy souvenirs and our picture from the start of the tour!
Ruby Falls is open daily, with tours heading down the elevator every 15-20 minutes. This is a perfect tourist activity rain or shine! The underground passageway to the falls stays a cool 60 degrees, so you may want to bring a light jacket.
Cameras and video recorders are welcome on the tour, but due to the narrow spaces in the passage, the tour is not wheelchair or stroller accessible.