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Ruby Falls is, by far, one of the best thing to do in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While it is a beautiful and intriguing cave system deep under Lookout Mountain, the best part of this entire experience is the amazing surprise waiting for you at the end.
What exactly is Ruby Falls?
Ruby Falls is an experience that is full of surprises for you to discover. It starts with a 260 foot descent down into the depths of Lookout Mountain.
Once you arrive at the bottom, you will be led by a tour guide through the cave system. Along the way, your guide will point out all the fun and unique rock formations that have formed over the years.
After hiking through the caves for a half a mile, you will reach the dramatic and jaw-dropping finale: a 30 foot underground waterfall! It is so amazing and more stunning than you could ever imagine! Words can’t describe how wonderful this waterfall is!
This is the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States.
The History of Ruby Falls
Ruby Falls was originally discovered by Leo Lambert in 1928. He actually found the waterfall by accident while exploring the caves under Lookout Mountain. Once he found it, he named it after his wife, Ruby. He opened it to the public a year later in 1929. And it is still amazing guests to this day!
What you need to know about visiting
Ruby Falls is located just minutes from downtown Chattanooga, Tennessee. You will find it at 1720 South Scenic Highway. It sits near Interstates 24, 59, and 75.
When approaching the area, be sure to follow the signs for Ruby Falls and not the signs for Lookout Mountain. The entrance to Ruby Falls is a couple miles away from the activities at the top of Lookout Mountain.
Admission is $25.95 for adults and $15.95 for kids ages 3-12. Children under 3 are free. You will need to buy your tickets online. They are not sold on site. You can buy the tickets on the Ruby Falls website.
All tickets to Ruby Falls are timed entries. This is because you can only go down into the caves as part of a guided tour. So, when you buy your tickets, you will be choosing the time for your tour. Tour groups are limited to 50 people maximum.
It generally takes between one hour and one and a half hours for the entire tour.
Tours are given daily throughout the year. The hours vary, however, based on the season.
There are two parking lots at Ruby Falls, so you should have no trouble finding a place to park for your tour. Parking is always free.
You will find a cafe and a gift shop onsite. Additionally, at the start of your tour, the staff will take a group photo, which you can purchase at the end.
Tips to have the best experience
While hiking deep within Lookout Mountain to see a huge and dynamic waterfall can be fun for the whole family, these tips will help you have the best experience possible.
Tip #1: Wear comfortable walking shoes. While the paths down in the cave are paved, they are also uneven and sometimes wet. So, it’s important to wear shoes that are comfortable, but that are good for hiking. Avoid heels, sandals, and flip flops.
Tip #2: Wear appropriate clothes. It is a constant 60 degrees in the caves. So, it’s important to dress for those temperatures, regardless of what the weather is like on the surface.
Tip #3: Avoid this tour if you must have a stroller or wheelchair. Due to the narrow width of the pathways in the caves, it is not possible to take a wheelchair or stroller on the tour. So, if someone in your party is wheelchair bound or if your young children are not able to walk or be carried for a full mile, consider a different experience.
Tip #4: Watch your head. In some areas, the paths become super narrow with very low clearance. In fact, in a few areas, the clearance is less than 6 feet! So, if you are tall, definitely watch your head as you walk!
Tip #5: Let your kids burn off their energy before your tour starts. If your kids have boundless energy, please give them a chance to run around and use up some of that energy before the start of your tour. Not only are the pathways very narrow, but you will be in close spaces with other people. It’s important, not only for the safety of your kids, but also for the enjoyment of others on your tour, that your kids can walk in line and be quiet when the tour guide is talking.
During our tour, there was a little boy about 5 or 6 years old who was bouncing off the walls the entire time. He was swinging on the handrails, being loud, and bumping into people in front of him. His dad tried hopelessly to control him, but it did no good. And it definitely had a negative impact on our experience.
Tip #6: Give your kids a snack before starting the tour. There is no food or drink allowed down in the caves. And the last thing you want is one of your children having a meltdown in the middle of 50 people in a tight space. So, give them a snack before you head underground to keep them happy during the tour.
Ruby Falls is truly one of the best things to do in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It is one of the only places in the world where you can see an amazing waterfall deep inside a magnificent cave under a mountain! I highly recommend it!
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