Visiting Ruby Falls in Chattanooga

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If you haven't visited Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, you need to schedule a trip pronto. Maybe I'm biased because I have a love of waterfalls, caves and caverns, but experiencing Ruby Falls was one of the highlights of my three-week cross-country trip. In fact, I found Chattanooga so charming and interesting that I'm eagerly anticipating going back for a longer visit.

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Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls is part of a larger attraction, Lookout Mountain, which could easily be an all-day experience. We only had a few hours in the morning, so we opted to do just the Ruby Falls tour. The drive from downtown Chattanooga to Ruby Falls was full of winding roads (with my mom acting like I was about to drive off the mountain!). The parking area closest to the lobby/gift shop practically hangs off the mountain – when we left and I had to back out of the space, I was thankful I wasn't in a manual car!

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So what is the big deal with the Falls? Named after the wife of the Falls' discoverer, the waterfall is located more than 1,120 feet below the surface of Lookout Mountain. A huge tourist attraction, Ruby Falls has welcomed thousands of visitors each year for 85 years. As they like to say on the tour, it never rains and it's always 60 degrees in Lookout Mountain Cave.

 The view of Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain.

The view of Chattanooga from Lookout Mountain.

What makes the waterfall so special is how it was discovered. Construction on the mountain began underground in 1905 to create a railway tunnel, closing the cave's natural opening. Leo Lambert, a cave enthusiast, wanted to reopen the cave and create a tourist attraction. His laborious digging through limestone often involved him in spaces no taller than 18 inches that didn't allow him to stand up the entire day he was in the cave. Plus, the only way out at the end of the day was to crawl backwards (for hours) until he got to an opening where he could stand up. Talk about dedication! What kept him going was the sensation of a breeze. This told him that there was an opening up ahead somewhere. He thought his digging would lead him to another natural cave opening. The location of the waterfall's water source has never been found!

The details
Ruby Falls
1720 South Scenic Hwy
Chattanooga, TN 37409
423-821-2544
Prices range from $11.95 to $19.95 for the Ruby Falls tour. Additional prices (with bundled tickets available) for Lookout Mountain, the ZIPline adventure and nearby Rock City.

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While in Chattanooga, make sure you stop by the MoonPie General Store (429 Broad St, Chattanooga, TN 37402)! MoonPies (which consists of two round graham cracker cookies sandwiched between a marshmallow filling, then covered in a flavored coating) have been made daily at the Chattanooga Bakery since April 29, 1917.

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The general store has a hot dog lunch counter, nostalgic gifts, and loads and loads of MoonPies in flavors like strawberry, caramel, banana, and, of course, the traditional chocolate. For the ultimate Southern treat, pair your MoonPie with a nice, cold RC Cola.