Ruby Falls: A Guide to Exploring Chattanooga’s Hidden waterfall

Nestled in the heart of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee lies Ruby Falls, an underground waterfall and cave system that has captivated visitors for over 90 years. This natural wonder is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Chattanooga or the surrounding areas. In this guide, we’ll explore the history of Ruby Falls and provide local tips and facts to help you make the most of your visit.

Ruby falls tower
The tower is made from the limestone dynamited from the cavern.

The History of Ruby falls

Ruby Falls was discovered in 1928 by Leo Lambert, a local cave enthusiast who was exploring Lookout Mountain with a group of friends. As they descended deeper into the mountain, they stumbled upon a breathtaking sight – a 145-foot waterfall cascading from the ceiling of the cave. Lambert named the falls after his wife, Ruby, and immediately began planning to open it to the public.

Stalactite curtains
Stalactite curtains across the cave

In 1930, Ruby Falls opened to the public as a tourist attraction, and it has been drawing visitors from around the world ever since. Today, the cave system stretches for over 1,100 feet and features stunning rock formations, underground rivers, and of course, the magnificent Ruby Falls.

The Tour

The guided tour takes approximately one hour, but it is an easy walk on mostly flat ground. There are plenty of low ceilings, so if you are over 5′ 6″ you will have to duck for periods of the tour.

Leo’s passage
Leo’s passage

There a plenty of signs along the way to mark historical moments and interesting stalagmites and stalactites.

Curtain stalactites
Curtain stalactites known as Ruby’s curtains

They also do a fantastic job with cave lighting to enhance the effect and beauty.

Ruby falls light show
Ruby falls light show

The pinnacle of the tour is entering the grand room and seeing the waterfall. The experience is set to a light and music show that both enhances your experience but also prevents the tour from overstaying their visit. They run multiple tours between 15 – 30 people through the cave system at the same time, and have key portions of the path set for passing tours.

Cool lighting in cave formations
Cool lighting is utilized at various locations

Even though most of the trail is repeated on the way back, the view is different and awe inspiring.

Mirror pool
Mirror pool on the path back from the falls.

With the varied rock formations, creative lighting, ease of access, and waterfall, Ruby falls cave tour has to be one of my all time favorite cave tour experiences to date.

Tips for Ruby Falls Cave Tour

  • Holidays, Summer months, and the weekend are all extremely busy, so book your Ruby falls tickets in advance. If your driving in from Nashville, use your Google maps arrival time to book your tickets based on your arrival time.
  • Bring a jacket: The temperature in the cave stays around 60 degrees Fahrenheit year-round, so be sure to bring a light jacket or sweater.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: The cave can be damp and slippery, so it’s important to wear comfortable shoes with good traction. Avoid sandals or flip-flops.
  • Explore the other attractions: While at Ruby Falls, be sure to also check out the Lookout Mountain Tower and the Rock City Gardens, both of which are located nearby.
  • You might want to check out the Ruby Falls Zip lines. We haven’t tried it yet, but the area would make for some spectacular views!

Ruby Falls is a hidden gem that should not be missed when visiting Chattanooga. With its rich history, stunning natural beauty, and unique geological features, it’s no wonder that it has become a popular destination for visitors from around the world. By following these local tips and facts, you can ensure that you have an unforgettable experience at Ruby Falls.

Any additional tips we should add to this article? Let us know in the comments!