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What It Looks Like Inside the World's Largest Underground Cave Waterfall

Tennessee Outdoor Family Travel
by Katie Scott Aiton Apr 18, 2024

Deep within Lookout Mountain, on the outskirts of Chattanooga, Tennessee, is Ruby Falls, the world’s largest underground waterfall. Accessible by a glass elevator that descends hundreds of feet into the earth, this is one of the coolest outdoor experiences you can have in the state.

The journey begins with a 260-foot descent by a glass-fronted elevator, offering a glimpse of the mountain’s interior before plunging you into the cavern. You can then join a guided tour that takes you along a paved half-mile trail past rock formations sculpted by millennia of water erosion.

People walk through the cave at Ruby Falls

Photo: Ruby Falls

As you near the end of the path, the cavern opens into a breathtaking chamber where Ruby Falls crashes down a moss-covered cliff illuminated in lights.

Couples stand in front of Ruby Falls

Photo: Ruby Falls

The tour also offers information on the cave’s history. You’ll learn about Leo Lambert, the man who stumbled upon the waterfall in 1928, and how he transformed it into a popular tourist destination named after his wife, Ruby.

There are a few tour options to choose from. For the adventurous, there’s the Lantern Tour — limited to a small group, the after-hours experiences take you through the cavern with hand-held lanterns, an early morning Gentle Walking Tour, and the Low Sensory Cave Tour.

Included in your ticket is entry to The Lookout Mountain Tower, which offers panoramic vistas of the Cumberland Plateau and the Tennessee River winding through the valley below.

A separate ticketed activity, the High Point Zip Adventure course, will take you on a zipline through the mountain forest.

Ruby Falls exterior

Photo: Ruby Falls

The Ruby Falls Castle also has a cafe that serves breakfast, lunch, dinner, and lighter fare. The seasonal menu is complimented by a range of local craft beer and Chattanooga-roasted fair-trade coffee. You can also stay overnight in one of the luxury treehouses and take advantage of the stunning Tennessee mountains.

The Cave Walk tour to the waterfalls costs $25.95 for adults, $15.95 for those aged three to 12, and free for those under two. The Lantern Tour and the Gentle Walking Tour tickets are $39.95 and are available to those over five. You also get a keepsake miner helmet with admission. If you’re local or intend on visiting more than once, there are season passes for purchase.

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