When Lance and I visited Chattanooga over Memorial Day weekend, we wanted to see Lookout Mountain, a mountain ridge at the southern part of the Smokey Mountains that spans the states of Alabama, Georgia and Tennessee. At first I just thought it was somewhere we'd hike, but Lance explained to me that within Lookout Mountain were several tourist attractions. We visited two of the attractions, Rock City and Ruby Falls. Now I have a love/hate relationship with tourist attractions. You've got to visit touristy places when you travel. They usually are worth the visit. You wouldn't go to Paris without visiting the Eiffel Tower or San Francisco without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge. But at the same time, tourist attractions are usually very crowded and some of the attraction is usually lost in its availability to visitors. So I loved/hated Rock City & Ruby Falls.
Rock City is beautiful. You follow a paved trail through multiple rock attractions, from narrow rock passages you have squeeze in between to get through, to huge rocks balance precariously on smaller rocks to waterfalls coming out of rocks.... about any kind of rock formation you could imagine from an Appalachian Mountain. I loved experiencing the different views and rock formations. However, the paths are somewhat narrow, so you're constantly corralled by anxious tourists around you. For someone who gets anxious in crowds, this place was a nightmare. I imagine, had we gone on a non-holiday weekend, it would be less busy.
But I definitely think Rock City is worth the visit. We saw breathtaking views of the area and enjoyed the nice walk through the mountain.
During our walk, we encountered several passages like this where some people would have to turn sideways to walk through. One passage in particular, I think, was named "Fat Man Squeeze". (I was waiting for the woman in front of us to have a panic attack. She was freaking out.)
Ruby Falls was beautiful as well. Story is Leo Lambert, the man who once owned this section of the mountain, wanted excavate the mountain to reach an existing tunnel that was sealed years before. While drilling into the mountain, they hit an air pocket and from there Lambert and a crew of men crawled for hours until they happened about a huge cavern with a waterfall in it. He later named the waterfall Ruby Falls after his wife, Ruby. That was December 28, 1928 (which is awesome because our wedding was also on December 28.) According to the website, "Located over 1120 feet beneath the surface, Ruby Falls is the nation’s largest and deepest waterfall open to the public."
The Ruby Falls tour takes you through the natural caves within Lookout Mountain, somewhat following the original path Lambert crawled. It was quite the adventure spelunking through these caves. We loved it. The different stalactites and stalagmites were amazing. When we finally reached Ruby Falls, we weren't disappointed. The mouth of the waterfall was located high above our heads. According to our tour guide they have no idea where the water comes from, but it does tend to flood the caves when it rains.
All in all Rock City and Ruby Falls were definitely worth the visit. We both a double pass that included both attractions at a discounted rate. There was no wait for Rock City. For Ruby Falls, we had to wait about an hour even though we already had our tickets. They do not have separate lines for people with or without tickets. If you want to visit either of these attractions, just know there's no advantage of buying ahead of time.
Rock City & Ruby Falls, Chattanooga, TN. May 25, 2015 | Fuji x100s & iPhone 6