Chattanooga, Tennessee: Ruby Falls

A 145-foot-tall waterfall under the earth -- dramatically bathed in unnatural light -- is the centerpiece of this cave attraction.

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Ruby Falls

Originally, we were just looking for Rock City when when we came upon Ruby Falls. We decided to purchase the Ruby Falls-Rock City combo for $31.

The Ruby Falls tour involves being taken underground in an elevator. Then you wait. Then you are herded to have your picture taken, which they will try to sell you for $20 at the end of the tour. Then you wait. Then you advance a certain distance. The tour guide shows a video. You advance a bit further and see a few rock formations. Then it is time to wait again while a group of "survivors," what they call returning tour participants, passes. The stopping and starting, and waiting for survivors goes on for quite a while until you finally reach Ruby Falls, a large subterranean water fall. You spend a few minutes there, take a few pictures, and then you begin the return trip. When you arrive at the elevator, you wait your turn again to ride to freedom.

Conclusion...We wish that we had saved our time (hour and a half) and money and just gone to Rock City which is great.

[Reverend Jimmy, 08/17/2009]
Ruby Falls - Vague Recollections

My family visited this attraction in 1961 when I was 16. Although I had girls on my mind, I thought this might be worth a looksee. We got into some kind of elevator and went down, down, down and then down some more. We finally stopped and the guide herded us out of the elevator a few yards and I could hear some running water.

The light was very dim, but after we are all somewhat settled down to one spot, they turned the lights out. This experience still defines "dark" in my mind. After what seemed an eternity -- and during which I began to wonder whether I could still hold onto my mom for protection -- they turned on some lights to illuminate this little trickle of water that pee'd over some rocks about as high as the roof on our house. The crowd "ooooooo'd" with delight, not because of the "falls" or the cheesy cellophane-colored lights, but because there was at long last ANY light at all.

[Harold, 08/09/2008]
Ruby Falls. Ruby Falls

Definitely worth the trip (we drove from Nashville). The cavern leading up to the falls has a lot of interesting (and pretty) geological features, and the falls themselves are impressive. They fall about 145 feet (if I recall the tour guides' info correctly) into a small pool. They have electric lights set up which change color.

[Joanne Merriam, 04/11/2004]
Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls is a 145 ft. waterfall 1,120 feet underground. An elevator takes you down 260 ft. to the Ruby Falls cave. You then walk a half-mile, with stops along the way, into the mountain to see the waterfall itself. The Civil War relics are in the Lower Lookout Mountain Cave below the Ruby Falls Cave. The Lower Cave was used as a Confederate hospital, and the only other item of interest is Andrew Jackson's signature carved into one of the rocks down there.

A few tips for visiting Ruby Falls from a real live Ruby Falls tour guide:
- If your schedule can allow it, visit the cave either soon after it opens (8am) or get in for one of the last tours after 7pm. You may have to wait for enough people before they'll send a tour down, but the cave won't be crowded and the tour guides love having small groups.
- Try to stay away from Ruby Falls on the weekends (especially Saturdays) in the summer. The wait to get into the cave can be as long as 1.5 hours. Tours can run as long as 2 hours instead of the touted 1 hour simply because of the sheer number of people down in the cave. The tour guides can only go so fast as the group ahead. (On regular days, I give tours that last an hour and 10 minutes.)
- Also, if you go during the week you'll get more time in the falls room than on the weekends. (That's 7 minutes as opposed to 4 minutes.)
- The cave is not wheel chair accessible. Parts of the trail are too narrow for a wheelchair to pass through and there are small sets of stairs throughout the path.

I definitely recommend getting the Ruby Falls-Rock City-Incline combination ticket as Mr. Bowers already suggested. Prices for it have changed, however. Adult tickets are $32 and Child (3-12 yrs) tickets are $16.

[Erin Brocker, 08/09/2003]
Ruby Falls

Don't trust the advise of those who haven't even been there. Ruby Falls is MUCH more than a trickle of water. It's a little expensive ($11.50 for an adult), but if your in the area, you really should check it out. I suggest getting the Ruby Falls - Rock City - Incline ticket for $15.50. Now that is a great deal!

[Eddie Bowers, 06/16/2002]

Ruby Falls

Ruby Falls

Address:
1720 S. Scenic Hwy, Chattanooga, TN
Directions:
Near Chattanooga take the I-24 (West) split. Continue on I-24W toward downtown Chattanooga. Take exit 178 (Lookout Mountain-S. Market St.) exit. Take the Lookout Mountain ramp off the exit. Proceed through the next two stop streets to Broad St. Turn Left (south) on Broad St. Proceed to the railroad underpass. Broad St. becomes Hwy 41. Continue on Hwy 41 about a half-mile and take the ramp on the left side of the highway labeled Ruby Falls.
Phone:
423-821-2544
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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