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This is the Tallest Underground Cave Waterfall in the U.S.

Deep within the heart of Lookout Mountain, one of Tennessee’s most iconic natural landmarks, lies a breathtaking subterranean secret – Ruby Falls, the tallest publicly accessible underground waterfall in the United States. At a staggering 1,120 feet beneath the surface, this magnificent 145-foot cascading waterfall resides in a vast cavern adorned with a kaleidoscope of ancient rock formations.

The city of Chattanooga, renowned for its exceptional rock climbing, biking, and hiking offerings, is home to this extraordinary double attraction. While the historic Incline Railway up Lookout Mountain entices visitors with its glass-roofed railcars offering panoramic vistas, the true natural revelation awaits underground within the mountain itself.

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Photo courtesy of Ruby Falls

To experience the awe-inspiring Ruby Falls, adventurers embark on a journey that begins with a descent into the depths via a glass-front elevator, plunging 26 stories straight into the cavern’s heart. As the elevator doors open, a subterranean wonderland unfolds, revealing a mesmerizing array of stalactites and stalagmites that have been sculpted over millennia by nature’s deft hand.

However, the true pièce de résistance is the thunderous Ruby Falls waterfall itself. Fed by underground streams and emerging from a cleft in the cavern’s limestone walls, the falls cascade down in a breathtaking torrent, filling the air with a fine mist and the soothing sounds of rushing water echoing through the chambers.

To preserve this delicate natural treasure and ensure visitor safety, all visits to Ruby Falls are conducted via guided tours led by knowledgeable staff. The popular Cave Walk tour offers a faster-paced journey through the cavern, accompanied by pre-recorded audio commentary that unveils the cave’s geological marvels.

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Photo courtesy of Ruby Falls

For those seeking a more in-depth experience, the early morning Gentle Walking Tour provides comprehensive insights into the formation and history of Ruby Falls, delivered by a seasoned guide.

For an atmospheric adventure that harkens back to the falls’ initial discovery, the after-hours Lantern Tour is an enchanting option. Illuminated solely by the warm glow of lanterns, visitors can retrace the footsteps of Leo Lambert, the intrepid explorer who stumbled upon Ruby Falls in 1928 and aptly named it after his wife.

Adding to the romantic allure, those visiting around Valentine’s Day can partake in the special Romance at Ruby Tour, offered from February 10th to 14th. This intimate journey delves into the captivating tale behind the falls’ discovery, weaving a narrative of love and natural splendor.

With an ambient temperature of 60°F maintained year-round within the cavern, Ruby Falls enchants visitors during all four seasons. Beyond the underground marvels, Lookout Mountain beckons with additional attractions, including the iconic Lookout Mountain Tower and Blue Heron Overlook, both offering sweeping vistas over the picturesque valley and Tennessee River below.

View from Lookout Mountain – courtesy of Ruby Falls

Thrill-seekers can also experience an adrenaline rush at the High Point ZIP Adventure, a series of exhilarating zip-lines and a climbing tower situated near Ruby Falls on Lookout Mountain.

Tickets for the 70- to 80-minute Cave Walk tour are priced at $25 for adults and $14 for children aged 3 to 12. Those seeking a more immersive experience can opt for the two-hour Gentle Walking Tour or the atmospheric Lantern Tour, both priced at $40 per person. The romantic Ruby Tour, available around Valentine’s Day, is a special offering at $90 per couple.

To ensure availability and avoid disappointment, it is highly recommended to book tickets for Ruby Falls tours online well in advance, ideally several days prior to your desired visit date.

Ruby Falls stands as a testament to nature’s artistic mastery, a hidden gem that beckons explorers to venture deep beneath the surface and witness the awe-inspiring beauty that lies within the heart of Lookout Mountain. With its mesmerizing waterfall, ancient rock formations, and rich history, this subterranean marvel is a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable encounter with the natural wonders of Tennessee.

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