Did you know that there are more caves in Tennessee than anywhere in the United States? Most are located on private property, but Ruby Falls in Chattanooga is open to the public and a perfect introduction to underground cave adventures.
With magnificent falls to explore, zip lining, and spectacular views of the Cumberland Plateau, Ruby Falls should not be missed. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
WHERE TO STAY
This year marks our family’s third stay at The Chattanoogan, and it gets better every time! New in 2023 the rooms have been updated with new carpet, new headboards, and new mattresses and pillows!
We love the multiple restaurants (including an outdoor lounge), the coffee shop, the spacious rooms, and friendly staff. Yes, it can be a romantic option for couples, but all the amenities make it easy-peasy for families, too… that’s why we love it!
Plus, the hotel’s location is close to downtown and central to everything Chattanooga offers. Plus, it’s a Hilton Curio hotel so you can use your Honors points while still enjoying that boutique feeling!
RUBY FALLS: CHATTANOOGA TN NATURAL WONDER
A visit here is a guaranteed good time! The highlight is being able to journey deep inside historic Lookout Mountain to see the tallest and deepest underground waterfall open to the public in the United States! Descend 260 feet by glass-front elevator to see ancient cave formations along the cavern trail to the thundering falls. It's truly spectacular and shouldn't be missed.
Ruby Falls is open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The only day it's closed is Christmas Day. Cave tours vary by the season, and zip lining is only open seasonally.
HISTORY OF RUBY FALLS
Ruby Falls history began with the original Lookout Mountain Caverns, a natural wonder along the Tennessee River. In 1905, the cave entrance was sealed off due to the construction of a railroad tunnel. Enter Mr. Leo Lambert.
Lambert had explored the cave before it was sealed, and wanted to open it back up to the public by drilling an elevator shaft through the mountain. While exploring, they found the amazing waterfall, which he named for his wife Ruby.
Looking for more adventures in Chattanooga? Try some of these fun activities!
- Take a train ride. Join this historical trolley ride and explore Chattanooga's rich transportation history. Enjoy a train ride on the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum's "Missionary Ridge Local."
- Experience an Adults-Only Haunted City Walking Tour. Delve into Chattanooga's haunted history on this guided walking tour. Listen to spine-chilling tales at stops like the Miller Plaza Pavilion, the Mountain City Club, and the Cherry Street Tavern.
- Explore downtown Chatt on a 2-hour Segway tour. Take a 2-hour Segway tour through Chattanooga, a destination for foodies and outdoor enthusiasts alike. You can learn about the secrets and hidden gems of the city, as you zip around on a convenient Segway.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE RUBY FALLS CAVE WALK TOUR
The Cave Walk tour at Ruby Falls is their most popular tour. This guided group tour will start with a glass elevator ride down 260 feet into the earth. You'll watch the solid rock wall slip away as the elevator takes you underground.
On the Cave Walk tour, you'll learn a basic overview on caves, and learn the story behind the accidental discovery of the cavern. You'll also see amazing rock formations and of course -- the thundering waterfall.
All tours of Ruby Fall are guided. Due to the narrow cave passages, it is not stroller or wheelchair accessible. You can put small children in a carrier, but be careful if they sit above your head, there are some low ceilings in the cave.
The Cave Walk tour can take anywhere from 1 hour to an hour and 20 minutes, depending on the time and date of your visit. The tour is about a 1-mile round-trip walk.
If you're looking for a slower paced or more in-depth tour of the caves, Ruby Falls also offers Specialty Tours and a Gentle Walking Tour.
THE RUBY FALLS WATERFALL
The highlight of all the cave tours at Ruby Falls is the waterfall. When you reach the falls, the lights are dark and it’s impossible to see anything.
The dark is worth it. The moment of illumination is dramatic and spectacular. Guests are allowed behind the falls once it is lit. Be sure to look up, it looks like an avalanche of crystals falling from the ceiling.
RUBY FALLS HIGH POINT ZIP ADVENTURE
Seasonally, Ruby Falls is also home to the High Point Zip Adventure. You can take in breathtaking views of the Tennessee Valley as you soar through the treetops on 700 feet of rushing ziplines and conquer the 40-foot climbing tower with multiple routes of varying difficulty.
Participants must weigh between 60 - 275 lbs for ZIP Adventure and 25 - 275 lbs for the climbing tower. Closed-toe and closed-heel shoes required. Children 10 and under must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
The High Point Zip Adventure is usually open daily in the summer, and on weekends from August-November.
TIPS FOR A GREAT RUBY FALLS EXPERIENCE
- At least try. Make sure everyone in your group goes to the bathroom before you enter the elevator. There are no bathrooms underground.
- Bring a sweater. Caves keep a constant temperature, no matter what it’s like outside. The temperature in the Ruby Falls cave is around 60 degrees year round.
- Pace yourself. There are some great attractions in Chattanooga, and you may be tempted to See Rock City, Ruby Falls and the Incline Railway all in one day. They're all great, but it may be a lot for kids (and adults) to do in one day.
- Take Your Time. I suggest splitting your visit to the Chattanooga it into two. If you must do it all in one, plan a lighter schedule the next day.
- Don't Bring a Stroller. The pathways in the cave are tight and there is only one way in and one way out, which means groups have to step aside to let the next group through. There is no room on this tour for a stroller.
- Pack the Young Ones in Front. If you are wearing a small child, wear them in the front. There are some low ceilings throughout the tour. You don't want to duck your head, just to hit the baby square on the noggin.
- Spend the night. Not in the cave, but in Chattanooga. A great place to stay nearby Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga is The Chattanoogan Hotel.
MORE INFORMATION FOR YOUR TRIP TO TENNESSEE
- YOUR TENNESSEE VACATION
- AQUARIUM: Chattanooga Aquarium: 45+ Essential Things to Know BEFORE Going
- SEE ROCK CITY: Still Awesome After 80+ Years
- WATERFALLS: 13 Amazing Waterfalls In Tennessee You Should Chase
- WEEKEND GETAWAYS: 13 Fantastic Weekend Getaways In TN You Will Love
We make no guarantees of any price listed on our site. We are not responsible for content on external web sites linked from ours, including linked resources, an external blog post, any partner site, hotel property sites, or affiliate sites. We only write about places we love in an attempt to help you in your adventures, but we can’t guarantee you will love them, too.
Posts may contain affiliate links at no cost to you. Several of our trips are also compensated by the respective tourism boards for the city or state we are visiting. This never impacts how we share the destination with you – opinions are always our own and we pride ourselves on that. We do not sell links or accept unsolicited guest posts under any circumstances. Don’t even ask.
United States Copyright, 365 Atlanta Family, LLC