Chattanooga, with its many attractions, rich history, and numerous natural wonders, is an excellent choice for a romantic getaway. From the entertaining and artsy downtown district to the museums, aquarium, and amusement park, there’s something for everyone in this gateway to the East Tennessee mountains. When Char and I visited Chattanooga recently, we spent time at one of the two main attractions on Lookout Mountain: Ruby Falls.
Ruby Falls is a 145 foot high underground waterfall inside Lookout Mountain. The Ruby Falls Cave which leads to the falls contains many cave formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, columns, drapery, and flowstone.
The falls were discovered in the late 1920s when Leo Lambert decided to open the Lookout Mountain Cave as a tourist attraction. He and his team were drilling a cave entrance higher than the natural entrance to Lookout Mountain Cave and his intent was send touring spelunkers down to the cave via elevator. While drilling, they discovered a cave known now as Ruby Falls Cave which had no natural opening to the outside. Exploring this 18″ x 4′ opening led Leo Lambert to the great underground waterfall.
Today, the Ruby Falls Cave and the underground waterfall are open to the public year round for exploration and enjoyment. A tour guide leads you through the cave pointing out unique formations and natural curiosities. Once you hike to the waterfall room, installed lights are dimmed and you stand in darkness for a moment just listening to the sound of rushing water crash into an underground pool. Atmospheric music is turned on and as it climaxes, lights are turned on to reveal the waterfall.
Guests can walk behind the falls and stare straight up as the water pours out 145 feet above them. The sight is simply awesome – and you can only imagine how Leo Lambert must have felt when he discovered the falls.
Cave exploration – especially when it leads to underground lakes,waterfalls, etc. – offers you a view of our world you simply can not find above the Earth’s surface. However long the tour gives you to stand in awe of the magnificent falls is not enough. You will want to return again and again.
After exiting the cave, take time to enjoy the rest of the Ruby Falls experience. There are hiking trails on Lookout Mountain, spectacular views of the city and mountains from atop a mountain tower, and more. It’s a great place to take your spouse for a romantic outing! Char and I spent as much time around the Ruby Falls grounds as we did exploring the cave and waterfall.
The setting makes for great photo opportunities so be sure to pack your camera. And bring along binoculars to view the city and mountains from atop Lookout Mountain.
Other attractions on Lookout Mountain include Rock City and the Incline Railway. But may we encourage you to just get in your car and drive up the mountain, taking time to stop at various locations along the way to enjoy the scenery and beauty. A quiet drive around Lookout Mountain is among the most romantic things to do in Chattanooga!
In fact, Ruby Falls seems to have been destined to be a place for romance. The falls get their name from Leo Lambert who brought his wife, Ruby, to explore the cave with him. While inside, he told her he was going to name the falls after her.
Ruby Falls has found it’s way into pop culture as well. Aside from the thousands of signs and rooftops along highways and interstates that say “See Rock City” and “See Ruby Falls,” the name has found its way into the American music scene. Didn’t you know that with Char and I, somehow music would enter this story?
Ruby Falls was the name of a female rock band from New York City that played from 1992-2000. More prominently, Johnny Cash performed a song entitled “See Ruby Fall” – a pun of sorts. And for those of you who like your music on the heavier side, heavy metal act Mastodon filmed part of their music video for “Colony of Birchmen” inside Ruby Falls Cave with the waterfall visible in the backdrop.
If you live anywhere within a days’ drive to Chattanooga, Ruby Falls alone is worth the trip! But there are many other things to see and do on Lookout Mountain and around Chattanooga as well. So plan some vacation time and take your spouse on a surprise trip – you’ll be glad you did!